Revolutionising Landcover Mapping

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Optical A true-colour Landsat Image around Moree, in the Gwydir catchment.

Optical true-colour image of a region
of land surrounding Moree, in the
Gwydir catchment.
Satellite image taken by Landsat.
© Geoscience Australia

The aim of landcover mapping at Geoscience Australia is to provide a national dynamic mapping system which places current landcover status and changes into a historical context at a national, regional and local scale. It is designed to support and facilitate a national standard baseline for change detection and environmental reporting, emergency management and aid in Natural Resource Management decisions.

A problem with conventional landcover mapping techniques is that a snapshot of landcover characteristics is taken at a specific time, and a comparison is made with another snapshot based on a pixel by pixel spectral response only. This interpretation can lead to seasonal bias, especially in areas of cropping where landcover may not have changed, but instead is in a different stage of the crop cycle.

A false-colour image of the behavioural characteristics of a region of land surrounding Moree, in the Gwydir catchment. Information captured using the MODIS sensors.

A false-colour image of the
behavioural characteristics of a
region of land surrounding Moree,
in the Gwydir catchment. Information
captured using the MODIS sensors.
© Geoscience Australia

The mapping system currently under development at Geoscience Australia relies on intensive continual optical remote sensing methods to determine the long term behaviour of different landcover classes. Instead of classifying individual pixels, complex algorithms allow specific geographical areas (fields, paddocks, wetlands, etc.) to be grouped on the basis of clustering coefficients of behaviour. In this respect, the landcover mapping methods currently under development are quite revolutionary in that they map spectral, spatial and temporal information.

To date, applications of this method could include accurate mapping of landcover change, biomass estimation, flood risk and monitoring water use. It is anticipated there may be many other applications.

 

Topic contact: earth.observation@ga.gov.au Last updated: October 27, 2011