Urban land-cover change detection through sub-pixel imperviousness mapping using remotely sensed data

Limin Yang, George Xian, Jacqueline M. Klaver, Brian Deal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


We developed a Sub-pixel Imperviousness Change Detection (SICD) approach to detect urban land-cover changes using Landsat and high-resolution imagery. The sub-pixel percent imperviousness was mapped for two dates (09 March 1993 and 11 March 2001) over western Georgia using a regression tree algorithm. The accuracy of the predicted imperviousness was reasonable based on a comparison using independent reference data. The average absolute error between predicted and reference data was 16.4 percent for 1993 and 15.3 percent for 2001. The correlation coefficient (r) was 0.73 for 1993 and 0.78 for 2001, respectively. Areas with a significant increase (greater than 20 percent) in impervious surface from 1993 to 2001 were mostly related to known land-cover/land-use changes that occurred in this area, suggesting that the spatial change of an impervious surface is a useful indicator for identifying spatial extent, intensity, and, potentially, type of urban land-cover/land-use changes. Compared to other pixel-based change-detection methods (band differencing, rationing, change vector, post-classification), information on changes in sub-pixel percent imperviousness allow users to quantify and interpret urban land-cover/land-use changes based on their own definition. Such information is considered complementary to products generated using other change-detection methods. In addition, the procedure for mapping imperviousness is objective and repeatable, hence, can be used for monitoring urban land-cover/land-use change over a large geographic area. Potential applications and limitations of the products developed through this study in urban environmental studies are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1010
Number of pages8
JournalPhotogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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