The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLI-B7
17 Jun 2016
 | 17 Jun 2016


F. Pirotti, D. Travaglini, F. Giannetti, E. Kutchartt, F. Bottalico, and G. Chirici

Keywords: Feature matching, Kernel normalized cross-correlation, Forest, Support Vector Machines

Abstract. In this study estimation of tree damage from a windthrow event using feature detection on RGB high resolution imagery is assessed. An accurate quantitative assessment of the damage in terms of volume is important and can be done by ground sampling, which is notably expensive and time-consuming, or by manual interpretation and analyses of aerial images. This latter manual method also requires an expert operator investing time to manually detect damaged trees and apply relation functions between measures and volume which are also error-prone.

In the proposed method RGB images with 0.2 m ground sample distance are analysed using an adaptive template matching method. Ten images corresponding to ten separate study areas are tested. A 13x13 pixels kernel with a simplified linear-feature representation of a cylinder is applied at different rotation angles (from 0° to 170° at 10° steps). The higher values of the normalized cross-correlation (NCC) of all angles are recorded for each pixel for each image. Several features are tested: percentiles (75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 99, max) and sum and number of pixels with NCC above 0.55. Three regression methods are tested, multiple regression (mr), support vector machines (svm) with linear kernel and random forests. The first two methods gave the best results.

The ground-truth was acquired by ground sampling, and total volumes of damaged trees are estimated for each of the 10 areas. Damaged volumes in the ten areas range from ~1.8 x102 m3 to ~1.2x104 m3. Regression results show that smv regression method over the sum gives an R-squared of 0.92, a mean of absolute errors (MAE) of 255 m3 and a relative absolute error (RAE) of 34% using leave-one-out cross validation from the 10 observations. These initial results are encouraging and support further investigations on more finely tuned kernel template metrics to define an unsupervised image analysis process to automatically assess forest damage from windthrow.