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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  2. Land-surface parameters derived from digital land surface models (DLSMs) (for example, slope, surface curvature, topographic position, topographic roughness, aspect, heat load index, and topographic moisture index) can serve as key predictor variables in a wide variety of mapping and modeling tasks relating to geomorphic processes, landform delineation, ecological and habitat characterization, and geohazard, soil, wetland, and general thematic mapping and modeling. However, selecting features from the large number of potential derivatives that may be predictive for a specific feature or process can be complicated, and existing literature may offer contradictory or incomplete guidance. The availability of multiple data sources and the need to define moving window shapes, sizes, and cell weightings further complicate selecting and optimizing the feature space. This review focuses on the calculation and use of DLSM parameters for empirical spatial predictive modeling applications, which rely on training data and explanatory variables to make predictions of landscape features and processes over a defined geographic extent. The target audience for this review is researchers and analysts undertaking predictive modeling tasks that make use of the most widely used terrain variables. To outline best practices and highlight future research needs, we review a range of land-surface parameters relating to steepness,more »local relief, rugosity, slope orientation, solar insolation, and moisture and characterize their relationship to geomorphic processes. We then discuss important considerations when selecting such parameters for predictive mapping and modeling tasks to assist analysts in answering two critical questions: What landscape conditions or processes does a given measure characterize? How might a particular metric relate to the phenomenon or features being mapped, modeled, or studied? We recommend the use of landscape- and problem-specific pilot studies to answer, to the extent possible, these questions for potential features of interest in a mapping or modeling task. We describe existing techniques to reduce the size of the feature space using feature selection and feature reduction methods, assess the importance or contribution of specific metrics, and parameterize moving windows or characterize the landscape at varying scales using alternative methods while highlighting strengths, drawbacks, and knowledge gaps for specific techniques. Recent developments, such as explainable machine learning and convolutional neural network (CNN)-based deep learning, may guide and/or minimize the need for feature space engineering and ease the use of DLSMs in predictive modeling tasks.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 29, 2023
  3. Abstract The advent of remote sensing from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) has opened the door to more affordable and effective methods of imaging and mapping of surface geophysical properties with many important applications in areas such as coastal zone management, ecology, agriculture, and defense. We describe a study to validate and improve soil moisture content retrieval and mapping from hyperspectral imagery collected by a UAS system. Our approach uses a recently developed model known as the multilayer radiative transfer model of soil reflectance (MARMIT). MARMIT partitions contributions due to water and the sediment surface into equivalent but separate layers and describes these layers using an equivalent slab model formalism. The model water layer thickness along with the fraction of wet surface become parameters that must be optimized in a calibration step, with extinction due to water absorption being applied in the model based on equivalent water layer thickness, while transmission and reflection coefficients follow the Fresnel formalism. In this work, we evaluate the model in both field settings, using UAS hyperspectral imagery, and laboratory settings, using hyperspectral spectra obtained with a goniometer. Sediment samples obtained from four different field sites representing disparate environmental settings comprised the laboratory analysis while fieldmore »validation used hyperspectral UAS imagery and coordinated ground truth obtained on a barrier island shore during field campaigns in 2018 and 2019. Analysis of the most significant wavelengths for retrieval indicate a number of different wavelengths in the short-wave infra-red (SWIR) that provide accurate fits to measured soil moisture content in the laboratory with normalized root mean square error (NRMSE)< 0.145, while independent evaluation from sequestered test data from the hyperspectral UAS imagery obtained during the field campaign obtained an average NRMSE = 0.169 and median NRMSE = 0.152 in a bootstrap analysis.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
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