Ghorbanian, A; Kakooei, M; Amani, M; Mahdavi, S; Mohammadzadeh, A; Hasanlou, M (2020). Improved land cover map of Iran using Sentinel imagery within Google Earth Engine and a novel automatic workflow for land cover classification using migrated training samples. ISPRS JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAMMETRY AND REMOTE SENSING, 167, 276-288.

Accurate information about the location, extent, and type of Land Cover (LC) is essential for various applications. The only recent available country-wide LC map of Iran was generated in 2016 by the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images with a considerably low accuracy. Therefore, the production of an up-to-date and accurate Iran-wide LC map using the most recent remote sensing, machine learning, and big data processing algorithms is required. Moreover, it is important to develop an efficient method for automatic LC generation for various time periods without the need to collect additional ground truth data from this immense country. Therefore, this study was conducted to fulfill two objectives. First, an improved Iranian LC map with 13 LC classes and a spatial resolution of 10 m was produced using multi-temporal synergy of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellite datasets applied to an object-based Random forest (RF) algorithm. For this purpose, 2,869 Sentinel-1 and 11,994 Sentinel-2 scenes acquired in 2017 were processed and classified within the Google Earth Engine (GEE) cloud computing platform allowing big geospatial data analysis. The Overall Accuracy (OA) and Kappa Coefficient (KC) of the final Iran-wide LC map for 2017 was 95.6% and 0.95, respectively, indicating the considerable potential of the proposed big data processing method. Second, an efficient automatic method was developed based on Sentinel-2 images to migrate ground truth samples from a reference year to automatically generate an LC map for any target year. The OA and KC for the LC map produced for the target year 2019 were 91.35% and 0.91, respectively, demonstrating the efficiency of the proposed method for automatic LC mapping. Based on the obtained accuracies, this method can potentially be applied to other regions of interest for LC mapping without the need for ground truth data from the target year.