Ping, B; Su, FZ; Meng, YS (2020). A Cloud and Cloud Shadow Detection Method Based on Fuzzy c-Means Algorithm. IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED TOPICS IN APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATIONS AND REMOTE SENSING, 13, 1714-1727.

Cloud and cloud shadow detection is an important preprocess before using satellite images for different applications. It can be considered as a classification process, in which the objective pixels are partitioned into cloud/cloud shadow or non-cloud/non-cloud shadow classes. However, some cloud pixels, especially the thin cloud pixels, can be considered as a mixture of reflectances of clouds and land objects. In fuzzy clustering, the data points can belong to two or more clusters; hence, fuzzy clustering may better characterize the status of one given pixel belonging to clouds or non-clouds. The fuzzy c-means method (FCM), one typical fuzzy clustering method, was utilized in this study for cloud and cloud shadow detection. In addition, the "flood-fill" morphological transformation may misclassify some clear-sky areas surrounded by clouds as cloud shadows as a whole, so a modified cloud shadow index calculation was proposed. Moreover, a cloud and cloud shadow spatial matching strategy based on the projection direction and spatial coexistence was used to exclude some pseudo cloud shadows. Fewer predefined parameters and spectral bands are needed is one characteristic of the proposed method. In this study, 41 scenes including 27 Landsat ETM+ images in eight latitude zones and 14 Landsat OLI images comprising seven land cover types, including barren, forest, grass, shrubland, urban, water, and wetlands areas, with percentages of cloud cover from 4.99% to 97.63%, were utilized to confirm the validity of the FCM. The detected results demonstrate that the thick and thin clouds along with their associated cloud shadows can be precisely extracted by using the FCM. Compared with the function of mask (Fmask) method, the FCM has relatively lower producer agreement rates, but it misclassifies as clouds fewer clear-sky pixels; compared with the support vector machine (SVM) method, the FCM can achieve better cloud detection accuracy. The results demonstrate that the FCM can attain a better balance between cloud pixel detection and non-cloud pixel exclusion.