Efficient Deep Semantic Segmentation for Land Cover Classification Using Sentinel Imagery

A. Tzepkenlis
K. Marthoglou
N. Grammalidis
Remote Sensing 15, no. 8: 2027


Nowadays, different machine learning approaches, either conventional or more advanced, use input from different remote sensing imagery for land cover classification and associated decision making. However, most approaches rely heavily on time-consuming tasks to gather accurate annotation data. Furthermore, downloading and pre-processing remote sensing imagery used to be a difficult and time-consuming task that discouraged policy makers to create and use new land cover maps. We argue that by combining recent improvements in deep learning with the use of powerful cloud computing platforms for EO data processing, specifically the Google Earth Engine, we can greatly facilitate the task of land cover classification. For this reason, we modify an efficient semantic segmentation approach (U-TAE) for a satellite image time series to use, as input, a single multiband image composite corresponding to a specific time range. Our motivation is threefold: (a) to improve land cover classification performance and at the same time reduce complexity by using, as input, satellite image composites with reduced noise created using temporal median instead of the original noisy (due to clouds, calibration errors, etc.) images, (b) to assess performance when using as input different combinations of satellite data, including Sentinel-2, Sentinel-1, spectral indices, and ALOS elevation data, and (c) to exploit channel attention instead of the temporal attention used in the original approach. We show that our proposed modification on U-TAE (mIoU: 57.25%) outperforms three other popular approaches, namely random forest (mIoU: 39.69%), U-Net (mIoU: 55.73%), and SegFormer (mIoU: 53.5%), while also using fewer training parameters. In addition, the evaluation reveals that proper selection of the input band combination is necessary for improved performance.