Random Forest Classification of Multitemporal Landsat 8 Spectral Data and Phenology Metrics for Land Cover Mapping in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts

Madeline Melichar, Kamel Didan, Armando Barreto-Muñoz, Jennifer N. Duberstein, Eduardo Jiménez Hernández, Theresa Crimmins, Haiquan Li, Myles Traphagen, Kathryn A. Thomas, Pamela L. Nagler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Geospatial data and tools evolve as new technologies are developed and landscape change occurs over time. As a result, these data may become outdated and inadequate for supporting critical habitat-related work across the international boundary in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts Bird Conservation Region (BCR 33) due to the area’s complex vegetation communities and the discontinuity in data availability across the United States (US) and Mexico (MX) border. This research aimed to produce the first 30 m continuous land cover map of BCR 33 by prototyping new methods for desert vegetation classification using the Random Forest (RF) machine learning (ML) method. The developed RF classification model utilized multitemporal Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager spectral and vegetation index data from the period of 2013–2020, and phenology metrics tailored to capture the unique growing seasons of desert vegetation. Our RF model achieved an overall classification F-score of 0.80 and an overall accuracy of 91.68%. Our results portrayed the vegetation cover at a much finer resolution than existing land cover maps from the US and MX portions of the study area, allowing for the separation and identification of smaller habitat pockets, including riparian communities, which are critically important for desert wildlife and are often misclassified or nonexistent in current maps. This early prototyping effort serves as a proof of concept for the ML and data fusion methods that will be used to generate the final high-resolution land cover map of the entire BCR 33 region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1266
JournalRemote Sensing
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • Landsat time series
  • desert vegetation
  • land cover
  • machine learning classification
  • phenology
  • transboundary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences

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