RANDOM FOREST CLASSIFICATION OF SEDIMENTS ON EXPOSED INTERTIDAL FLATS USING ALOS-2 QUAD-POLARIMETRIC SAR DATA
Keywords: Coastal Zones Surveillance, SAR, Polarimetric Decomposition, Optical Channels, Random Forest
Abstract. Coastal zones are one of the world’s most densely populated areas and it is necessary to propose an accurate, cost effective, frequent, and synoptic method of monitoring these complex ecosystems. However, misclassification of sediments on exposed intertidal flats restricts the development of coastal zones surveillance. With the advent of SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellites, polarimetric SAR satellite imagery plays an increasingly important role in monitoring changes in coastal wetland. This research investigated the necessity of combining SAR polarimetric features with optical data, and their contribution in accurately sediment classification. Three experimental groups were set to make assessment of the most appropriate descriptors. (i) Several SAR polarimetric descriptors were extracted from scattering matrix using Cloude-Pottier, Freeman-Durden and Yamaguchi methods; (ii) Optical remote sensing (RS) data with R, G and B channels formed the second feature combinations; (iii) The chosen SAR and optical RS indicators were both added into classifier. Classification was carried out using Random Forest (RF) classifiers and a general result mapping of intertidal flats was generated. Experiments were implemented using ALOS-2 L-band satellite imagery and GF-1 optical multi-spectral data acquired in the same period. The weights of descriptors were evaluated by VI (RF Variable Importance). Results suggested that optical data source has few advantages on sediment classification, and even reduce the effect of SAR indicators. Polarimetric SAR feature sets show great potentials in intertidal flats classification and are promising in classifying mud flats, sand flats, bare farmland and tidal water.