Paper Published in Remote Sensing

Title: Comparison of Land Use Land Cover Classifiers Using Different Satellite Imagery and Machine Learning Techniques

Journal: Remote Sensing


Abstract: Accurate land use land cover (LULC) classification is vital for the sustainable management of natural resources and to learn how the landscape is changing due to climate. For accurate and efficient LULC classification, high-quality datasets and robust classification methods are required. With the increasing availability of satellite data, geospatial analysis tools, and classification methods, it is essential to systematically assess the performance of different combinations of satellite data and classification methods to help select the best approach for LULC classification. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the LULC classification performance of two commonly used platforms (i.e., ArcGIS Pro and Google Earth Engine) with different satellite datasets (i.e., Landsat, Sentinel, and Planet) through a case study for the city of Charlottetown in Canada. Specifically, three classifiers in ArcGIS Pro, including support vector machine (SVM), maximum likelihood (ML), and random forest/random tree (RF/RT), are utilized to develop LULC maps over the period of 2017–2021. Whereas four classifiers in Google Earth Engine, including SVM, RF/RT, minimum distance (MD), and classification and regression tree (CART), are used to develop LULC maps for the same period. To identify the most efficient and accurate classifier, the overall accuracy and kappa coefficient for each classifier is calculated throughout the study period for all combinations of satellite data, classification platforms, and methods. Change detection is then conducted using the best classifier to quantify the LULC changes over the study period. Results show that the SVM classifier in both ArcGIS Pro and Google Earth Engine presents the best performance compared to other classifiers. In particular, the SVM in ArcGIS Pro shows an overall accuracy of 89% with Landsat, 91% with Sentinel, and 94% with Planet. Similarly, in Google Earth Engine, the SVM shows an accuracy of 87% with Landsat 8 and 92% with Sentinel 2. Furthermore, change detection results show that 13.80% and 14.10% of forest areas have been turned into bare land and urban class, respectively, and 3.90% of the land has been converted into the urban area from 2017 to 2021, suggesting the intensive urbanization. The results of this study will provide the scientific basis for selecting the remote sensing classifier and satellite imagery to develop accurate LULC maps.