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Framework to create cloud-free remote sensing data using passenger aircraft as the platform

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
  • Chisheng Wang
  • Shuying Wang
  • Hongxing Cui
  • Monja Šebela
  • Ce Zhang
  • Xiaowei Gu
  • Xu Fang
  • Zhongwen Hu
  • Qiandi Tang
  • Yongquan Wang
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>7/07/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Number of pages14
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date7/07/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Cloud removal in optical remote sensing imagery is essential for many Earth observation applications.Due to the inherent imaging geometry features in satellite remote sensing, it is impossible to observe the ground under the clouds directly; therefore, cloud removal algorithms are always not perfect owing to the loss of ground truth. Passenger aircraft have the advantages of short visitation frequency and low cost. Additionally, because passenger aircraft fly at lower altitudes compared to satellites, they can observe the ground under the clouds at an oblique viewing angle. In this study, we examine the possibility of creating cloud-free remote sensing data by stacking multi-angle images captured by passenger aircraft. To accomplish this, a processing framework is proposed, which includes four main steps: 1) multi-angle image acquisition from passenger aircraft, 2) cloud detection based on deep learning semantic segmentation models, 3) cloud removal by image stacking, and 4) image quality enhancement via haze removal. This method is intended to remove cloud contamination without the requirements of reference images and pre-determination of cloud types. The proposed method was tested in multiple case studies, wherein the resultant cloud- and haze-free orthophotos were visualized and quantitatively analyzed in various land cover type scenes. The results of the case studies demonstrated that the proposed method could generate high quality, cloud-free orthophotos. Therefore, we conclude that this framework has great potential for creating cloud-free remote sensing images when the cloud removal of satellite imagery is difficult or inaccurate.