Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Environmental Resources & Policy

First Advisor

Wang, Guangxing


Remotely sensed imagery is one of the most important data sources for large-scale and multi-temporal agricultural, forestry, soil, environmental, social and economic applications. In order to accurately extract useful thematic information of the earth surface from images, various techniques and methods have been developed. The methods can be divided into parametric and non-parametric based on the requirement of data distribution, or into global and local based on the characteristics of modeling global trends and local variability, or into unsupervised and supervised based on whether training data are required, and into design-based and model-based in terms of the theory based on which the estimators are developed. The methods have their own disadvantages that impede the improvement of estimation accuracy. Thus, developing novel methods and improving the existing methods are needed. This dissertation focused on the development of a feature-space indicator simulation (FSIS), the improvement of geographically weighted sigmoidal simulation (GWSS) and k-nearest neighbors (kNN), and their assessment of land use and land cover (LULC) classification and probability (fraction) mapping of percentage vegetation cover (PVC) in Duolun County, Xilingol League, Inner Mongolia, China. The FSIS employs an indicator simulation in a high-dimensional feature space and expends derivation of indicator variograms from geographic space to feature space that leads to feature space indicator variograms (FSIV), to circumvent the issues existing in traditional indicator simulation in geostatistics. The GWSS is a stochastic and probability mapping method and considers a spatially nonstationary sample data and the local variation of an interest variable. The improved kNN, called Optimal k-nearest neighbors (OkNN), searches for an optimal number of nearest neighbors at each location based on local variability, and can be used for both classification and probability mapping. Three methods were validated and compared with several widely used approaches for LULC classification and PVC mapping in the study area. The datasets used in the study included a Landsat 8 image and a total of 920 field plots. The results obtained showed that 1) Compared with maximum likelihood classification (ML), support vector machine (SVM) and random forest (RF), the proposed FSIS classifier led to statistically significantly higher classification accuracy of six LULC types (water, agricultural land, grassland, bare soil, built-up area, and forested area); 2) Compared with linear regression (LR), polynomial regression (PR), sigmoidal regression (SR), geographically weighted regression (GWR), and geographically weighted polynomial regression (GWPR), GWSS did not only resulted in more accurate estimates of PVC, but also greatly reduced the underestimations and overestimation of PVC for the small and large values respectively; 3) Most of the red and near infrared bands relevant vegetation indices had significant contributions to improving the accuracy of mapping PVC; 4) OkNN resulted in spatially variable and optimized k values and higher prediction accuracy of PVC than the global methods; and 5) The range parameter of FSIVs was the major factor that spatially affected the classification accuracy of LULC types, but the FSIVs were less sensitive to the number of training samples. Thus, the results answered all six research questions proposed.




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