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ESP: a tool to estimate scale parameter for multiresolution image segmentation of remotely sensed data

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The spatial resolution of imaging sensors has increased dramatically in recent years, and so too have the challenges associated with extracting meaningful information from their data products. Object-based image analysis (OBIA) is gaining rapid popularity in remote sensing science as a means of bridging very high spatial resolution (VHSR) imagery and GIS. Multiscalar image segmentation is a fundamental step in OBIA, yet there is currently no tool available to objectively guide the selection of appropriate scales for segmentation. We present a technique for estimating the scale parameter in image segmentation of remotely sensed data with Definiens Developer®. The degree of heterogeneity within an image-object is controlled by a subjective measure called the 'scale parameter', as implemented in the mentioned software. We propose a tool, called estimation of scale parameter (ESP), that builds on the idea of local variance (LV) of object heterogeneity within a scene. The ESP tool iteratively generates image-objects at multiple scale levels in a bottom-up approach and calculates the LV for each scale. Variation in heterogeneity is explored by evaluating LV plotted against the corresponding scale. The thresholds in rates of change of LV (ROC-LV) indicate the scale levels at which the image can be segmented in the most appropriate manner, relative to the data properties at the scene level. Our tests on different types of imagery indicated fast processing times and accurate results. The simple yet robust ESP tool enables fast and objective parametrization when performing image segmentation and holds great potential for OBIA applications.
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Keywords: Definiens; OBIA; characteristic scales; local variance; tessellation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography and Geology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria,Department of Geography, West University of Timisoara, Timisoara, Romania 2: Z_GIS, Centre for Geoinformatics, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria 3: Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution, Stanford, CA, USA

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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