Geography & Environment Publications

Extracting Urban Vegetation Characteristics Using Spectral Mixture Analysis and Decision Tree Classifications

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Remote Sensing of Environment

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Urban vegetation cover is a critical component in urban systems modeling and recent advances in remote sensing technologies can provide detailed estimates of vegetation characteristics. In the present study we classify urban vegetation characteristics, including species and condition, using an approach based on spectral unmixing and statistically developed decision trees. This technique involves modeling the location and separability of vegetation characteristics within the spectral mixing space derived from high spatial resolution Quickbird imagery for the City of Vancouver, Canada. Abundance images, field based land cover observations and shadow estimates derived from a LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) surface model are applied to develop decision tree classifications to extract several urban vegetation characteristics. Our results indicate that along the vegetation-dark mixing line, tree and vegetated ground cover classes can be accurately separated (80% and 94% of variance explained respectively) and more detailed vegetation characteristics including manicured and mixed grasses and deciduous and evergreen trees can be extracted as second order hierarchical categories with variance explained ranging between 67% and 100%. Our results also suggest that the leaf-off condition of deciduous trees produce pixels with higher dark fractions resulting from branches and soils dominating the reflectance values. This research has important implications for understanding fine scale biophysical and social processes within urban environments.

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