The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLVI-M-2-2022
25 Jul 2022
 | 25 Jul 2022


A. Hasan, C. Witharana, M. R. Udawalpola, and A. K. Liljedahl

Keywords: Cloud detection, Semantic segmentation, Deep learning, Satellite imagery, U-Net

Abstract. Cloud detection is an inextricable pre-processing step in remote sensing image analysis workflows. Most of the traditional rule-based and machine-learning-based algorithms utilize low-level features of the clouds and classify individual cloud pixels based on their spectral signatures. Cloud detection using such approaches can be challenging due to a multitude of factors including harsh lighting conditions, the presence of thin clouds, the context of surrounding pixels, and complex spatial patterns. In recent studies, deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have shown outstanding results in the computer vision domain. These methods are practiced for better capturing the texture, shape as well as context of images. In this study, we propose a deep learning CNN approach to detect cloud pixels from medium-resolution satellite imagery. The proposed CNN accounts for both the low-level features, such as color and texture information as well as high-level features extracted from successive convolutions of the input image. We prepared a cloud-pixel dataset of approximately 7273 randomly sampled 320 by 320 pixels image patches taken from a total of 121 Landsat-8 (30m) and Sentinel-2 (20m) image scenes. These satellite images come with cloud masks. From the available data channels, only blue, green, red, and NIR bands are fed into the model. The CNN model was trained on 5300 image patches and validated on 1973 independent image patches. As the final output from our model, we extract a binary mask of cloud pixels and non-cloud pixels. The results are benchmarked against established cloud detection methods using standard accuracy metrics.