Image and Signal Processing Methods

Cloud masking and removal in remote sensing image time series

[+] Author Affiliations
Luis Gómez-Chova, Julia Amorós-López, Gonzalo Mateo-García, Jordi Muñoz-Marí, Gustau Camps-Valls

University of Valencia, Image Processing Laboratory, Catedrático José Beltrán 2, Paterna, Valencia E-46980, Spain

J. Appl. Remote Sens. 11(1), 015005 (Jan 12, 2017). doi:10.1117/1.JRS.11.015005
History: Received October 27, 2016; Accepted December 16, 2016
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Abstract.  Automatic cloud masking of Earth observation images is one of the first required steps in optical remote sensing data processing since the operational use and product generation from satellite image time series might be hampered by undetected clouds. The high temporal revisit of current and forthcoming missions and the scarcity of labeled data force us to cast cloud screening as an unsupervised change detection problem in the temporal domain. We introduce a cloud screening method based on detecting abrupt changes along the time dimension. The main assumption is that image time series follow smooth variations over land (background) and abrupt changes will be mainly due to the presence of clouds. The method estimates the background surface changes using the information in the time series. In particular, we propose linear and nonlinear least squares regression algorithms that minimize both the prediction and the estimation error simultaneously. Then, significant differences in the image of interest with respect to the estimated background are identified as clouds. The use of kernel methods allows the generalization of the algorithm to account for higher-order (nonlinear) feature relations. After the proposed cloud masking and cloud removal, cloud-free time series at high spatial resolution can be used to obtain a better monitoring of land cover dynamics and to generate more elaborated products. The method is tested in a dataset with 5-day revisit time series from SPOT-4 at high resolution and with Landsat-8 time series. Experimental results show that the proposed method yields more accurate cloud masks when confronted with state-of-the-art approaches typically used in operational settings. In addition, the algorithm has been implemented in the Google Earth Engine platform, which allows us to access the full Landsat-8 catalog and work in a parallel distributed platform to extend its applicability to a global planetary scale.

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© 2017 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

Citation

Luis Gómez-Chova ; Julia Amorós-López ; Gonzalo Mateo-García ; Jordi Muñoz-Marí and Gustau Camps-Valls
"Cloud masking and removal in remote sensing image time series", J. Appl. Remote Sens. 11(1), 015005 (Jan 12, 2017). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.JRS.11.015005


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