Garrigues, S, Allard, D, Baret, F (2007). Using first- and second-order variograms for characterizing landscape spatial structures from remote sensing imagery. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, 45(6), 1823-1834.
The spatial structures displayed by remote sensing imagery are essential information characterizing the nature and the scale of spatial variation of Earth surface processes. This paper provides a new approach to characterize the spatial structures within remote sensing imagery using stochastic models an geostatistic metrics. Up to now, the second-order variogram has been widely used to describe the spatial variations within an image. In this paper, we demonstrate its limitation to discriminate distinct image spatial structures. We introduce a different geostatistic metric, the first-order variogram, which used in combination with the second-order variogram, will prove its efficiency to describe the image spatial structures. We then develop a method based on the simultaneous use of both first- and second-order variogram metrics to model the image spatial structures as the weighted linear combination of two stochastic models: a Poisson line mosaic model and a multi-Gaussian model. The image spatial structures are characterized by the variance weight and the variogram range related to each model. This method is applied to several SPOT-HRV Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) images from the VALERI database in order to characterize the nature of the processes structuring different types of landscape. The mosaic model is an indicator of strong NDVI discontinuities within the image mainly generated by anthropogenic processes such as the mosaic pattern of crop sites. The multi-Gaussian model shows, evidence of diffuse and continuous variation of NDVI generally engendered by ecological and environmental processes such as the fuzzy pattern observed over forest and natural vegetation sites.