Han, WX; Huang, CL; Duan, HT; Gu, J; Hou, JL (2020). Lake Phenology of Freeze-Thaw Cycles Using Random Forest: A Case Study of Qinghai Lake. REMOTE SENSING, 12(24), 4098.

Lake phenology is essential for understanding the lake freeze-thaw cycle effects on terrestrial hydrological processes. The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP) has the most extensive ice reserve outside of the Arctic and Antarctic poles and is a sensitive indicator of global climate changes. Qinghai Lake, the largest lake in the QTP, plays a critical role in climate change. The freeze-thaw cycles of lakes were studied using daily Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data ranging from 2000-2018 in the Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform. Surface water/ice area, coverage, critical dates, surface water, and ice cover duration were extracted. Random forest (RF) was applied with a classifier accuracy of 0.9965 and a validation accuracy of 0.8072. Compared with six common water indexes (tasseled cap wetness (TCW), normalized difference water index (NDWI), modified normalized difference water index (MNDWI), automated water extraction index (AWEI), water index 2015 (WI2015) and multiband water index (MBWI)) and ice threshold value methods, the critical freeze-up start (FUS), freeze-up end (FUE), break-up start (BUS), and break-up end (BUE) dates were extracted by RF and validated by visual interpretation. The results showed an R-2 of 0.99, RMSE of 3.81 days, FUS and BUS overestimations of 2.50 days, and FUE and BUE underestimations of 0.85 days. RF performed well for lake freeze-thaw cycles. From 2000 to 2018, the FUS and FUE dates were delayed by 11.21 and 8.21 days, respectively, and the BUS and BUE dates were 8.59 and 1.26 days early, respectively. Two novel key indicators, namely date of the first negative land surface temperature (DFNLST) and date of the first positive land surface temperature (DFPLST), were proposed to comprehensively delineate lake phenology: DFNLST was approximately 37 days before FUS, and DFPLST was approximately 20 days before BUS, revealing that the first negative and first positive land surface temperatures occur increasingly earlier.