Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Wang, Guangxing


Multi-spectral imagery provides a robust and low-cost dataset for assessing wetland extent and quality over broad regions and is frequently used for wetland inventories. However in forested wetlands, hydrology is obscured by tree canopy making it difficult to detect with multi-spectral imagery alone. Because of this, classification of forested wetlands often includes greater errors than that of other wetlands types. Elevation and terrain derivatives have been shown to be useful for modelling wetland hydrology. But, few studies have addressed the use of LiDAR intensity data detecting hydrology in forested wetlands. Due the tendency of LiDAR signal to be attenuated by water, this research proposed the fusion of LiDAR intensity data with LiDAR elevation, terrain data, and aerial imagery, for the detection of forested wetland hydrology. We examined the utility of LiDAR intensity data and determined whether the fusion of Lidar derived data with multispectral imagery increased the accuracy of forested wetland classification compared with a classification performed with only multi-spectral image. Four classifications were performed: Classification A - All Imagery, Classification B - All LiDAR, Classification C - LiDAR without Intensity, and Classification D - Fusion of All Data. These classifications were performed using random forest and each resulted in a 3-foot resolution thematic raster of forested upland and forested wetland locations in Vermilion County, Illinois. The accuracies of these classifications were compared using Kappa Coefficient of Agreement. Importance statistics produced within the random forest classifier were evaluated in order to understand the contribution of individual datasets. Classification D, which used the fusion of LiDAR and multi-spectral imagery as input variables, had moderate to strong agreement between reference data and classification results. It was found that Classification A performed using all the LiDAR data and its derivatives (intensity, elevation, slope, aspect, curvatures, and Topographic Wetness Index) was the most accurate classification with Kappa: 78.04%, indicating moderate to strong agreement. However, Classification C, performed with LiDAR derivative without intensity data had less agreement than would be expected by chance, indicating that LiDAR contributed significantly to the accuracy of Classification B.




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