Land-Use and Land-Cover Classification in Semi-Arid Areas from Medium-Resolution Remote-Sensing Imagery: A Deep Learning Approach

In Sensors
Volume (Issue): 22 (22)
Peer-reviewed Article
cover image

Detailed Land-Use and Land-Cover (LULC) information is of pivotal importance in, e.g., urban/rural planning, disaster management, and climate change adaptation. Recently, Deep Learning (DL) has emerged as a paradigm shift for LULC classification. To date, little research has focused on using DL methods for LULC mapping in semi-arid regions, and none that we are aware of have compared the use of different Sentinel-2 image band combinations for mapping LULC in semi-arid landscapes with deep Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) models. Sentinel-2 multispectral image bands have varying spatial resolutions, and there is often high spectral similarity of different LULC features in semi-arid regions; therefore, selection of suitable Sentinel-2 bands could be an important factor for LULC mapping in these areas. Our study contributes to the remote sensing literature by testing different Sentinel-2 bands, as well as the transferability of well-optimized CNNs, for semi-arid LULC classification in semi-arid regions. We first trained a CNN model in one semi-arid study site (Gujranwala city, Gujranwala Saddar and Wazirabadtownships, Pakistan), and then applied the pre-trained model to map LULC in two additional semi-arid study sites (Lahore and Faisalabad city, Pakistan). Two different composite images were compared: (i) a four-band composite with 10 m spatial resolution image bands (Near-Infrared (NIR), green, blue, and red bands), and (ii) a ten-band composite made by adding two Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) bands and four vegetation red-edge bands to the four-band composite. Experimental results corroborate the validity of the proposed CNN architecture. Notably, the four-band CNN model has shown robustness in semi-arid regions, where spatially and spectrally confusing land-covers are present.