Discriminating plant species across California's diverse ecosystems using airborne VSWIR and TIR imagery

2017-01-10T23:10:05Z (GMT) by Susan Meerdink

Presented at the 2015 Fall AGU Meeting

Accurate knowledge of the spatial distribution of plant species is required for many research and management agendas that track ecosystem health. Because of this, there is continuous development of research focused on remotely-sensed species classifications for many diverse ecosystems. While plant species have been mapped using airborne imaging spectroscopy, the geographic extent has been limited due to data availability and spectrally similar species continue to be difficult to separate. The proposed Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) space-borne mission, which includes a visible near infrared/shortwave infrared (VSWIR) imaging spectrometer and thermal infrared (TIR) multi-spectral imager, would present an opportunity to improve species discrimination over a much broader scale. Here we evaluate: 1) the capability of VSWIR and/or TIR spectra to discriminate plant species; 2) the accuracy of species classifications within an ecosystem; and 3) the potential for discriminating among species across a range of ecosystems. Simulated HyspIRI imagery was acquired in spring/summer of 2013 spanning from Santa Barbara to Bakersfield, CA with the Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) and the MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator (MASTER) instruments. Three spectral libraries were created from these images: AVIRIS (224 bands from 0.4 - 2.5 µm), MASTER (8 bands from 7.5 – 12 µm), and AVIRIS + MASTER. We used canonical discriminant analysis (CDA) as a dimension reduction technique and then classified plant species using linear discriminant analysis (LDA). Our results show the inclusion of TIR spectra improved species discrimination, but only for plant species with emissivities departing from that of a gray body. Ecosystems with species that have high spectral contrast had higher classification accuracies. Mapping plant species across all ecosystems resulted in a classification with lower accuracies than a single ecosystem due to the complex nature of incorporating more plant species.