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A combined spectral and object-based approach to transparent cloud removal in an operational setting for Landsat ETM+

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Issue number2
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)220-227
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date28/12/10
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The automated cloud cover assessment (ACCA) algorithm has provided automated estimates of cloud cover for the Landsat ETM+ mission since 2001. However, due to the lack of a band around 1.375 μm, cloud edges and transparent clouds such as cirrus cannot be detected. Use of Landsat ETM+ imagery for terrestrial land analysis is further hampered by the relatively long revisit period due to a nadir only viewing sensor. In this study, the ACCA threshold parameters were altered to minimise omission errors in the cloud masks. Object-based analysis was used to reduce the commission errors from the extended cloud filters. The method resulted in the removal of optically thin cirrus cloud and cloud edges which are often missed by other methods in sub-tropical areas. Although not fully automated, the principles of the method developed here provide an opportunity for using otherwise sub-optimal or completely unusable Landsat ETM+ imagery for operational applications. Where specific images are required for particular research goals the method can be used to remove cloud and transparent cloud helping to reduce bias in subsequent land cover classifications.

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