Characterization of Active Riverbed Spatiotemporal Dynamics through the Definition of a Framework for Remote Sensing Procedures


Type: Link Language: English Author: Marta Crivellaro, Alfonso Vitti, Guido Zolezzi, Walter Bertoldi

The increasing availability and quality of remote sensing data are changing the methods used in fluvial geomorphology applications, allowing the observation of hydro-morpho-biodynamics processes and their spatial and temporal variations at broader and more refined scales. With the advent of cloud-based computing, it is nowadays possible to reduce data processing time and increase code sharing, facilitating the development of reproducible analyses at regional and global scales. The consolidation of Earth Observation mission data into a single repository such as Google Earth Engine (GEE) offers the opportunity to standardize various methods found in literature, in particular those related to the identification of key geomorphological parameters. This work investigates different computational techniques and timeframes (e.g., seasonal, annual) for the automatic detection of the active river channel and its multi-temporal aggregation, proposing a rational integration of remote sensing tools into river monitoring and management. In particular, we propose a quantitative analysis of different approaches to obtain a synthetic representative image of river corridors, where each pixel is computed as a percentile of the bands (or a combination of bands) of all available images in a given time span. Synthetic images have the advantage of limiting the variability of individual images, thus providing more robust results in terms of the classification of the main components of the riverine ecosystem (sediments, water, and riparian vegetation). We apply the analysis to a set of rivers with analogous bioclimatic conditions and different levels of anthropic pressure, using a combination of Landsat and Sentinel-2 data. The results show that synthetic images derived from multispectral indexes (such as NDVI and MDWI) are more accurate than synthetic images derived from single bands. In addition, different temporal reduction statistics affect the detection of the active channel, and we suggest using the 90th percentile instead of the median to improve the detection of vegetated areas. Individual representative images are then aggregated into multitemporal maps to define a systematic and easily replicable approach for extracting active river corridors and their inherent spatial and temporal dynamics. Finally, the proposed procedure has the potential to be easily implemented and automated as a tool to provide relevant data to river managers.

Keywords: remote sensing, active channel, riverine macro units, synthetic representative images, google earth engine

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