Evaluation of four classification algorithms of Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 satellite images to identify forest cover in highly fragmented regions in Costa Rica

I.D. Ávila-Pérez, E. Ortiz-Malavassi, C. Soto-Montoya, Y. Vargas-Solano, H. Aguilar-Arias, C. Miller-Granados

Abstract

Mapping of land use and forest cover and assessing their changes is essential in the design of strategies to manage and preserve the natural resources of a country, and remote sensing have been extensively used with this purpose. By comparing four classification algorithms and two types of satellite images, the objective of the research was to identify the type of algorithm and satellite image that allows higher global accuracy in the identification of forest cover in highly fragmented landscapes. The study included a treatment arrangement with three factors and six randomly selected blocks within the Huetar Norte Zone in Costa Rica. More accurate results were obtained for classifications based on Sentinel-2 images compared to Landsat-8 images. The best classification algorithms were Maximum Likelihood, Support Vector Machine or Neural Networks, and they yield better results than Minimum Distance Classification. There was no interaction among image type and classification methods, therefore, Sentinel-2 images can be used with any of the three best algorithms, but the best result was the combination of Sentinel-2 and Support Vector Machine. An additional factor included in the study was the image acquisition date. There were significant differences among months during which the image was acquired and an interaction between the classification algorithm and this factor was detected. The best results correspond to images obtained in April, and the lower to September, month that corresponds with the period of higher rainfall in the region studied. The higher global accuracy identifying forest cover is obtained with Sentinel-2 images from the dry season in combination with Maximum Likelihood, Support Vector Machine, and Neural Network image classification methods.


Keywords

Landsat 8; Sentinel-2; Maximum likelihood classification (MLC); Minimum distance classification (MDC); Support vector machine (SVM); Neural net classification (NNC); Huetar Norte Zone

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