A review of the application of optical and radar remote sensing data fusion to land use mapping and monitoring
Joshi, Neha; Baumann, Matthias; Ehammer, Andrea; Reiche, Johannes
The wealth of complementary data available from remote sensing missions can hugely aid efforts towards accurately determining land use and quantifying subtle changes in land use management or intensity. This study reviewed 112 studies on fusing optical and radar data, which offer unique spectral and structural information, for land cover and use assessments. Contrary to our expectations, only 50 studies specifically addressed land use, and five assessed land use changes, while the majority addressed land cover. The advantages of fusion for land use analysis were assessed in 32 studies, and a large majority (28 studies) concluded that fusion improved results compared to using single data sources. Study sites were small, frequently 300-3000 km2 or individual plots, with a lack of comparison of results and accuracies across sites. Although a variety of fusion techniques were used, pre-classification fusion followed by pixel-level inputs in traditional classification algorithms (e.g., Gaussian maximum likelihood classification) was common, but often without a concrete rationale on the applicability of the method to the land use theme being studied. Progress in this field of research requires the development of robust techniques of fusion to map the intricacies of land uses and changes therein and systematic procedures to assess the benefits of fusion over larger spatial scales.