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Creators/Authors contains: "Zhang, Weixing"

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  1. State-of-the-art deep learning technology has been successfully applied to relatively small selected areas of very high spatial resolution (0.15 and 0.25 m) optical aerial imagery acquired by a fixed-wing aircraft to automatically characterize ice-wedge polygons (IWPs) in the Arctic tundra. However, any mapping of IWPs at regional to continental scales requires images acquired on different sensor platforms (particularly satellite) and a refined understanding of the performance stability of the method across sensor platforms through reliable evaluation assessments. In this study, we examined the transferability of a deep learning Mask Region-Based Convolutional Neural Network (R-CNN) model for mapping IWPs in satellitemore »remote sensing imagery (~0.5 m) covering 272 km2 and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) (0.02 m) imagery covering 0.32 km2. Multi-spectral images were obtained from the WorldView-2 satellite sensor and pan-sharpened to ~0.5 m, and a 20 mp CMOS sensor camera onboard a UAV, respectively. The training dataset included 25,489 and 6022 manually delineated IWPs from satellite and fixed-wing aircraft aerial imagery near the Arctic Coastal Plain, northern Alaska. Quantitative assessments showed that individual IWPs were correctly detected at up to 72% and 70%, and delineated at up to 73% and 68% F1 score accuracy levels for satellite and UAV images, respectively. Expert-based qualitative assessments showed that IWPs were correctly detected at good (40–60%) and excellent (80–100%) accuracy levels for satellite and UAV images, respectively, and delineated at excellent (80–100%) level for both images. We found that (1) regardless of spatial resolution and spectral bands, the deep learning Mask R-CNN model effectively mapped IWPs in both remote sensing satellite and UAV images; (2) the model achieved a better accuracy in detection with finer image resolution, such as UAV imagery, yet a better accuracy in delineation with coarser image resolution, such as satellite imagery; (3) increasing the number of training data with different resolutions between the training and actual application imagery does not necessarily result in better performance of the Mask R-CNN in IWPs mapping; (4) and overall, the model underestimates the total number of IWPs particularly in terms of disjoint/incomplete IWPs.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2021
  2. The microtopography associated with ice-wedge polygons governs many aspects of Arctic ecosystem, permafrost, and hydrologic dynamics from local to regional scales owing to the linkages between microtopography and the flow and storage of water, vegetation succession, and permafrost dynamics. Wide-spread ice-wedge degradation is transforming low-centered polygons into high-centered polygons at an alarming rate. Accurate data on spatial distribution of ice-wedge polygons at a pan-Arctic scale are not yet available, despite the availability of sub-meter-scale remote sensing imagery. This is because the necessary spatial detail quickly produces data volumes that hamper both manual and semi-automated mapping approaches across large geographical extents.more »Accordingly, transforming big imagery into ‘science-ready’ insightful analytics demands novel image-to-assessment pipelines that are fueled by advanced machine learning techniques and high-performance computational resources. In this exploratory study, we tasked a deep-learning driven object instance segmentation method (i.e., the Mask R-CNN) with delineating and classifying ice-wedge polygons in very high spatial resolution aerial orthoimagery. We conducted a systematic experiment to gauge the performances and interoperability of the Mask R-CNN across spatial resolutions (0.15 m to 1 m) and image scene contents (a total of 134 km2) near Nuiqsut, Northern Alaska. The trained Mask R-CNN reported mean average precisions of 0.70 and 0.60 at thresholds of 0.50 and 0.75, respectively. Manual validations showed that approximately 95% of individual ice-wedge polygons were correctly delineated and classified, with an overall classification accuracy of 79%. Our findings show that the Mask R-CNN is a robust method to automatically identify ice-wedge polygons from fine-resolution optical imagery. Overall, this automated imagery-enabled intense mapping approach can provide a foundational framework that may propel future pan-Arctic studies of permafrost thaw, tundra landscape evolution, and the role of high latitudes in the global climate system.« less