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An optimal image transform for threshold-based cloud detection using heteroscedastic discriminant analysis

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We present a simple image transform that optimally combines four image channels into a greyscale image for threshold-based cloud detection. These image channels, namely blue, green, red and near infrared, are present on many low Earth-orbit resource satellites. Applying a single threshold to a greyscale image is a computationally efficient method suitable for onboard implementation. We used heteroscedastic discriminant analysis (HDA), which is a generalization of the popular dimension-reducing linear discriminant analysis, to transform the image. Comparative tests between HDA, existing transforms from the remote-sensing literature (the haze optimized and D transforms), as well as the single red and blue image channels were conducted. Although thin clouds remain challenging for global threshold-based techniques, the HDA transform consistently gave the best average segmentation errors across the test dataset. This dataset consisted of 32 1 megapixel Quickbird and Landsat images. HDA has not previously been applied to remote-sensing data.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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