Srinet, R; Nandy, S; Padalia, H; Ghosh, S; Watham, T; Patel, NR; Chauhan, P (2020). Mapping plant functional types in Northwest Himalayan foothills of India using random forest algorithm in Google Earth Engine. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF REMOTE SENSING, 41(18), 1-14.

Plant functional types (PFTs) have been widely used to represent the vegetation characteristics and their interlinkage with the surrounding environment in various earth system models. The present study aims to generate a PFT map for the Northwest Himalayan (NWH) foothills of India using seasonality parameters, topographic conditions, and climatic information from various satellite data and products using Random Forest (RF) algorithm in Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform. The seasonality information was extracted by carrying out a harmonic analysis of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time-series (2008 to 2018) from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Terra surface reflectance 8 day 500 m data (MOD09A1). For topographic information, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model (DEM) derived aspect and Multi-Scale Topographic Position Index (MTPI) were used, whereas, for climatic variables, WorldClim V2 Bioclimatic (Bioclim) variables were used. RF, a machine learning classifier, was used to generate a PFT map using these datasets. The overall accuracy of the resulting PFT map was found to be 83.33% with a Kappa coefficient of 0.71. The present study provides an effective approach for PFT classification using different well-established, freely available satellite data and products in the GEE platform. This approach can also be implemented in different ecological settings by using various meaningful variables at varying resolutions.