Local optimal scale in a hierarchical segmentation method for satellite images

An OBIA approach for the agricultural landscape


Over recent decades, remote sensing has emerged as an effective tool for improving agriculture productivity. In particular, many works have dealt with the problem of identifying characteristics or phenomena of crops and orchards on different scales using remote sensed images. Since the natural processes are scale dependent and most of them are hierarchically structured, the determination of optimal study scales is mandatory in understanding these processes and their interactions. The concept of multi-scale/multi-resolution inherent to OBIA methodologies allows the scale problem to be dealt with. But for that multi-scale and hierarchical segmentation algorithms are required. The question that remains unsolved is to determine the suitable scale segmentation that allows different objects and phenomena to be characterized in a single image. In this work, an adaptation of the Simple Linear Iterative Clustering (SLIC) algorithm to perform a multi-scale hierarchical segmentation of satellite images is proposed. The selection of the optimal multi-scale segmentation for different regions of the image is carried out by evaluating the intra-variability and inter-heterogeneity of the regions obtained on each scale with respect to the parent-regions defined by the coarsest scale. To achieve this goal, an objective function, that combines weighted variance and the global Moran index, has been used. Two different kinds of experiment have been carried out, generating the number of regions on each scale through linear and dyadic approaches. This methodology has allowed, on the one hand, the detection of objects on different scales and, on the other hand, to represent them all in a single image. Altogether, the procedure provides the user with a better comprehension of the land cover, the objects on it and the phenomena occurring.

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A. García-Pedrero (grant 216146) and D. Fonseca-Luengo acknowledge the support for the realization of their doctoral thesis to the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) and the National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT), respectively.

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Correspondence to Consuelo Gonzalo-Martín.

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This work has been funded by the Centro de Recursos Hídricos para la Agricultura y la Minería (CONICYT/FONDAP/1513001).

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Gonzalo-Martín, C., Lillo-Saavedra, M., Menasalvas, E. et al. Local optimal scale in a hierarchical segmentation method for satellite images. J Intell Inf Syst 46, 517–529 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10844-015-0365-4

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  • Remote sensing
  • Hierarchical segmentation
  • Multi-scale
  • High resolution images