Lin, YY; Zhang, HS; Lin, H; Gamba, PE; Liu, XP (2020). Incorporating synthetic aperture radar and optical images to investigate the annual dynamics of anthropogenic impervious surface at large scale. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 242, 111757.

The area, distribution, and temporal dynamics of anthropogenic impervious surface (AIS) at large scale are significant for environmental, ecological and socio-economic studies. Remote sensing has become an important tool for monitoring large scale AIS, while it remains challenging for accurate extraction of AIS using optical datasets alone due to the high diversity of land covers over large scale. Previous studies indicated the complementary use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to improve the AIS estimation, while most of them were limited to local and small scales. The potential of SAR for large scale AIS mapping is still uncertain and under-explored. In this study, first, a machine learning framework incorporating both optical and SAR data based on Google Earth Engine platform was developed for mapping and analyzing the annual dynamics of AIS in China. Feature-level fusion for SAR and optical data across large scale was tested applicable considering the backscattering coefficients, texture measures and spectral characteristics. Improved accuracy (averaged 2% increased overall accuracy and averaged 4% increased Kappa coefficient) and better delineation between the bright impervious surface and bare land was observed comparing with using optical data alone. Second, comprehensive assessment was conducted using high-resolution samples from Google Earth, census data from China Statistic Yearbook and benchmark datasets from the GlobeLand30 and GHSL, demonstrating the feasibility and reliability of the proposed method and results. Last but not the least, we analyzed the spatial and temporal patterns of AIS in China from national, regional and provincial levels.