International Journal of Geosciences, 2012, 3, 3743 http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ijg.2012.31005 Published Online February 2012 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ijg) Optimal Scale Selection for DEM Based Slope Segmentation in the Loess Plateau Mingwei Zhao, Fayuan Li*, Guo’an Tang Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment, Ministry of Education, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China Email: *lifayuan@njnu.edu.cn Received May 9, 2011; revised August 9, 2011; accepted November 7, 2011 ABSTRACT Optimal scale selection is the key step of the slope segmentation. Taking three geomorphological units in different parts of the loess as test areas and 5 mresolution DEMs as original test date, this paper employed the changed ROCLV (Lucian, 2010) in judging the optimal scales in the slope segmentation process. The experiment results showed that this method is effective in determining the optimal scale in the slope segmentation. The results also showed that the slope segmentation of the different geomorphological units require different optimal scales because the landform complexity is varied. The three test areas require the same scale which could distinguish the small gully because all the test areas have many gullies of the same size, however, when come to distinguish the basins, since the complexity of the three areas is different, the test areas require different scales. Keywords: Optimal Scale; Multiresolution; Slope Segmentation; Loess Plateau 1. Introduction Quantificational analysis of loess terrain is a key subject in the research of the loess plateau [17]. Slope is the basic element of geomorphology. Based on slope point of view, Tang et al. (2008) proposed slope spectrum to quan titatively describe loess landform [8], Zhou et al. (2010) discussed the spatial pattern of loess landform based on loess positive and negative terrain [9], and other re searches focus on the extracting of loess landform unit, such as gully area, gully bottom area and inter gully area [10]. However, their research cannot properly describe the spatial structure of loess slope. Considering different landform is composed by different slopes, so the study of the spatial structure of loess slope could be a new way to analyze the loess terrain [11]. In order to analyze the loess terrain based on slope, different types of slope should be classified well and truly. Slope classification has long been researched since 1950’s. Hammond (1964) gave a manual way based on contoured map [12]. With the increasing availability of commercial GIS software, Dikau et al. (1991) developed GIS technology to automatic slope classification based on Hammond’s method [13]. Philip (1998) put forward an approach to the classification of the slope units using digital data [14]. Dragut and Blaschke (2006) proposed an objectoriented method to carry out the slope segmen tation process [15]. This method has been proven to be reproducible, readily adaptable for diverse landscapes and datasets. However, the limitation of this method is that it request specify the scale level. In fact, optimal scale selection is a key issue in the image analysis [16,17]. As we known, image segmenta tion is the first step of image analysis, and it is also the fundamental process of Objectoriented Remote Sensing image classification. Most of the image segmentation methods are based on image characteristic, take given algorithm parameter, usually the parameter is a threshold which can separate the adjacent area, to separate the im age into areas of different characteristic, so it is a scale problem in nature [18]. Generally speaking, small scale can generate smaller image area which could show more details, while large scale generate larger image area which could express the objects of unusual. In the process of objectoriented remote sensing image classification, if the scale selected is too large, some small object may be submerged by the larger object; if the scale selected is too small, the segmentation process may generate frag mentation result. So selecting the optimal segmentation scale is the key issue in objectoriented remote sensing im age classification. There are many methods of optimal scale selection for image segmentation based on pixel [1922]. However, traditional pixelbased image segmentation approaches are poorly suited to very high spatial resolu tion imagery [23,24]. Objectbased image analysis became prevalent through the realization that imageobjects hold more realworld value than pixels alone [2527]. Though *Corresponding author. C opyright © 2012 SciRes. IJG
M. W. ZHAO ET AL. 38 the objectbased image analysis is becoming increasingly prominent in remote sensing science [28], the optimal scale selection is still dependent on subjective trialand error method [29]. Aimed at these problems, Lucian et al. (2010) put a new conception (ROCLV) which could em ployed to select optimal scales in the objectbased image analysis. Tests on different types of imagery indicated accurate results [30]. This paper applied the ROCLV to select the optimal scale for the DEM based slope segmentation. Because the datasets tested in Lucian’s study is quite different with the datasets used for the slope segmentation, the most distinct difference is that there is no clear boundary among different types of slope. So in this paper some change was made in order to make the method suit to our study. This paper took three geomorphological units in different parts of the loess as test areas and 5 mresolution DEMs as original test date, used the changed ROCLV to realize slope segmentation. Experiment results show that though the datasets are rather different with the ordinary imagi nary, the changed ROCLV could still indicated the op timal scales for the slope segmentation based on DEMs. 2. Methods 2.1. Study Area and Data Three areas, all located in Shaanxi province, are selected as the test areas (Figure 1). The first area located in Suide County, which is one of the key watersheds of soil and water conservation. The highest elevation above sea is 1115 m and the lowest elevation is 892 m. The main landform of this area is Loess Hill. Average annual pre cipitation is 486 mm and average temperature is 9.7˚C. The second area located in Ganquan County. The highest elevation above sea is 1459 m and the lowest elevation is 1147 m. the main landform of this area is Loess Ridge. Average annual precipitation is 670 mm and average temperature is 10.4˚C  13.6˚C. The third area located in Yijun County. The highest elevation above sea is 1158 m and the lowest elevation is 768 m. the main landform of this area is Loess Tableland. Average annual precipita tion is 709 mm and average temperature is 8.9˚C. The locations here belong to the continental monsoon climate. The main vegetation covers are shrubs and grass, severe soil and water loss is the main problems in these areas. Test dates are the corresponding 5 mgrid resolution Figure 1. Distribution of the test areas. Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJG
M. W. ZHAO ET AL. 39 DEMs produced according to the national standard of China. 2.2. LV and ROCLV The original idea of using local variance to select optimal scale was raised by Woodcock, Strahler and Jupp (1998) [31]. Given the same region’s image with different scales, we can find the optimal scale through calculating each image’s local variance. The calculation steps are list as follows: Firstly, set an analysis window on each image, move the window through the entire image and calculate the variance of all the pixel value in the window on each position. Suppose the window is , 21 21aa , ij ,ij is the pixel value of the position, then the local variance of the window which take this pixel as the center can calculate by the following formula: 2 ,ij 2 2 1 21 ja ia ij kial ja ij u 2 a where ij is the local variance. is the mean of the pixel value in the window. ij u Secondly, calculate the mean of all the local variance of the image, so the mean local variance of the image can be expressed as: 2 1 22La M 2 11 La Ma ij ia ja a 2 where the image’s local variance, L is the rows of the image and M is the columns of the image. Finally, take the images’ spatial resolution as abscissa, the mean local variance as the vertical coordinates, and plot the local variance graph. Observe the variance trend of the local variance as the scale become coarser, the scale can select as the optimal scale at which the local variance achieve the peak in the local variance graph. Kim (2008) made advances toward addressing this is sue in the context of OBIA by exploring the relationship between segmentation variance and spatial autocorrela tion at different scale parameters to define the optimal object size [32]. The above methods focused on one op timal scale, which is appropriate for simple scene models; however, many environmental problems cannot be han dled at a single scale of observation, researchers often have to deal with nested models of a scene. As such, multiscale analysis and representation require more than one suitable scale parameter to account for different lev els of organization in landscape structure. Lucian (2010) calculate the local variance of objects generating through segmentation under different scales, in order to assess the dynamics of the local variance from an object level to another, the author use a measure called rate of change (ROC). Through several experiment ana lysis, the author found that the peaks in the LVROC graph could indicate the object level at which the image can be segmented in the most appropriate manner. However, the method put forward by Lucian requested too much calculation. On the other hand, it is difficult to select the optimal scales using the local variance based on pixel graph. SO we utilize Lucian’s method as re ference, define the rate of change in the same way. The difference is our calculation is based on pixel, rather than objects. 1 1 ROC ll l LV LV LV LV 1l LV (3) where l is the local variance at the target level and is the local variance at next lower level. 2.3. Segmentation on eCongnition An objectoriented method proposed by Dragut and Blas chke (2006) is adapted to loess slope segmentation [14]. Firstly, several data layers are extracted from Digital Ele vation Models (DEM): profile curvature, plan curvature and slope gradient. Secondly, every data layer is taken as a singleband image, and then the three singleband im ages are combined into a multiband image. Then append a new process in the process tree. Six parameters should be defined: (a) segmentation algorithm, multiresolution seg mentation is selected in this paper; (b) Image Object Do main, since the segmentation would be carried out based on the original image, so pixel level is selected; (c) Im age Layer weights, we defined the same weight for the three singleband image; (d) Scale parameter, the defini tion of this parameter is discussed in the next part of the paper; (e) Composition of homogeneity criterion, the pa rameter shape define the weight that the shape criterion should have when segmenting the image. The higher its value is, the lower the influence of color on the segmen tation process. The parameter compactness defines the weight of the compactness criterion. The higher the value, the more compact image objects may be. By lots of ex periments, we set the shape as 0.3 and the compactness 0.5. The entire tests are run on the eCongnition software which is developed by Definiens Company. 3. Result and Discussions The segmentation process requests three layers: slope, plan curvature and profile curvature. In order to make the analysis easy to interpret and make sure the result con sistent, the three images were integrated into a synthetic cal layer according to the weights 1, 1, and 1. The con crete fusion process could be carried out as following: Firstly, calculate each layer according formula (4) to make the pixel value range from 0 to 1. This process can Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJG
M. W. ZHAO ET AL. 40 eliminate the dimensional influence on the different lay ers. min max min ij pp pp p p pmax p newij p (4) where ij is the original value of the pixel in the place , and newij is the calculated value of the same pixel; min is the minimum value and is the maximum of the layer. ,ij Then, carry out raster calculation according to formula (5) to integrate three layers into a synthetical one. 123 3 ij ij ppp p ij ij syn p (5) where ij syn is the value of the pixel in the place ,ij p of the synthetical layer, 1ij , 2ij , and 3ij pp is the value of the pixel in the same place of the three layers. Haven obtained the single synthetical layer. This paper employed ArcGIS 10.0 to calculate the local variance at different scales. Firstly, use the Block Statistics tool to calculate the local variance under the 3 × 3 window, and then change the analysis scale by change the size of the moving window to calculate the new local variance; Re peat the above work until the scale up to some decided value. At last, we obtain the local variance at different scales. 3.1. LV and ROCLV Graph Utilized the local variance at different scales, one could plot the LVScale graph (Figure 2). Figure 2 shows that the local variance increased as the resolution becomes coarser, but the velocity of the increase declines. The local variance tends to become a fixed value when the scale became large enough. These results could be ex plained as following: when the image’s resolution is much smaller than the objects’ size, in another word, the reso lution is very high, each pixel in the image has high cor relation with its neighbor, so the local variance is small; as the objects’ size is equivalent to the spatial resolution, the value of each pixel is different with others, so the correlation decrease, leading the local variance increase. In the experiment of this paper, because there are no ob vious boundaries among different slopes, so the local variance doesn’t mount up to a peak, the local variance increase more slowly as the spatial resolution becomes coarser, finally tends to become a fixed value. Haven obtained the local variance at different spatial resolution; the local variancerate of change (LVROC) could be calculated according to the formula (3). Fur thermore, one could plot the LVROCScale graph (Fig ure 2). Be aware that in this paper we removed five points in the front, because comparing with the other values, the five values in the front is too high, so it is difficult to find the jump points when plot them together. From the Figure 2, it could be found that as the spatial become coarser, the local variance decrease with many jumping points. Because these jumping points could in dicate the large change of the local variance under certain spatial resolution, these jumping points likely indicated the optimal segmentation scales. 3.2. Segmentation Results This paper selected three obvious jumping points for each experiment areas, marked with broken line in the LVROC graph. For Suide, scales relevant to the jump ing points are 40, 90, and 110; for Ganquan, scales rele vant to the jumping points are 45,105 and 115; for Yijun, scales relevant to the jumping points are 45,105 and 155. Carry out the segmentation process under the three scales. The segmentation results are listed in Figure 3. In order to observe the equality of the segmentation, the segmen tation results were overlaid on the hillshade of the origin nal DEMs. The segmentation results showed that at the small scale, boundaries of different slopes’ could be segmented from the synthetical layer. As the scale became large, the segmentation results became fuzzier, because many simi lar slopes can’t be differentiated; as the scale kept on in creasing, the small basins were seemed as a type of slope. So we could conclude that the three segmentation results reflect the objects’ boundaries of different levels. Com pare the experiment results of the three areas, it could also be found that the first and second optimal scale for the three areas are similar, the reason is that all the test areas have lots of gullies of the same size on the whole. However, since the Yijun area is more flat than Suide area and Ganquan area, so the third optimal scale for the Yi jun area is much larger. 4. Discussion and Conclusions Although the production of multiscale representation of spatial entities has been technically enhanced in OBIA through image segmentation, choosing the suitable levels of representation has remained a challenge. Kim et al. (2008) proved that LV graphs indicate the optimal scale parameter for delineating forest stands, but their work focused on a single scale. Although our segmentation process is pixel based, the LV graph doesn’t peak or de clined, the graphs we obtained followed a relatively smooth variogram shape. While appropriate for detecting a single scale, the LV graph is not suitable for a multis cale approach. So this paper applied Lucian’s conception in choosing the optimal scale in the multiresolution seg mentation process. Lucian’s work calculated the local variance based on segmentation results, this idea may appropriate for im ages which contain objects that have obvious boundary. Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJG
M. W. ZHAO ET AL. Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJG 41 (a) (b) (c) Figure 2. LV and LVROC Graphs of the three experiment areas. (a) LV and LVROC graphs of Suide; (b) LV and LVROC graphs of Ganquan; (c) LV and LVROC graphs of Yijun. (A)
M. W. ZHAO ET AL. 42 (B) (C) Figure 3. Segmentation results of the three experiment areas under different scales. (A) Segmentation results of Jiuyuangou under scale 4,090,110; (B) Segmentation results of Ganquan under scale 45,105,115; (C) Segmentation results of Yijun under scale 45,105,155. However, in this paper, slopes of different types don’t have obvious boundary. So it is not appropriate to calcu late the local variance based on segmentation results. The study firstly infused the three images into a synthetical one as the original layer to calculate the LV and ROC LV instead. The segmentation results of the three test areas with different landform characters showed that this changed method is efficient for multiscale slope seg mentation. Furthermore, the method may also afford a new idea for traditional digital image process, especially for the multiband image analysis. 5. Acknowledgement Thanks for financially support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 40930531, No. 4080 1148, No. 41171299). REFERENCES [1] Z. H. Zhang, “Regional Geologic and Physiognomy Cha racteristic as Well as Contemporary Erosion Process of Loess Plateau,” Acta Geologic Sinica, Vol. 55, No. 4, 1981, pp. 308319. [2] W. N. Chen, “Statistical Analysis of Gepmorphic Condi tions Effection Loess Erosion in Loess RidgeHill Gully Region,” Scienti a Geographical Sinica, Vol. 8, No. 4, 1998, [3] Q. Li, Z. C. Lu pp. 323329. and B. Y. Yuan, “Quantitative Study Of ssipa  rch on the Relation nalysis of Spa esearch on the the Stage of Geomorphological Evolution,” Acta Geogra phica Sinica, Vol. 45, No. 1, 1990, pp. 110120. [4] X. Z. Ma, Z. C. Lu and D. S. Jin, “Evolution and Pi tive Structure in the DrainageGeomorphic System,” Acta Geographica Sinica, Vol. 48, No. 4, 1993, pp. 367376. [5] D. S. Jin, “Experiment and Simulation in Geomophol ogy,” Earthquake Press, Beijin, 1995. [6] L. P. Zhang and Z. Z. Ma, “The Resea between Gully Density and Cutting Depth in Different Drainage Landform Evolution Periods,” Geographical Re search, Vol. 17, No. 3, 1998, pp. 273278. [7] X. N. Xiao, L. Z. Cui, C. Wang, et al., “A tial Data for Simulating the Development Process of To pographic Feature of Watershed,” Scientia Geographical Sinica, Vol. 24, No. 4, 2004, pp. 439443. [8] G. A. Tang, F. Y. Li, X. J. Liu, et al., “R Slope Spectrum of the Loess Plateau,” Science in China Series E: Technological Sciences, Vol. 51, Supp. 1, 2008, pp. 175185. doi:10.1007/s1143100850029 [9] Y. Zhou, G. A. Tang, X. Yang, et al., “Positive and Nega tive Terrains on Northern Shaanxi Loess Plateau,” Journal of Geographical Sciences, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2010, pp. 64 76. doi:10.1007/s1144201000646 [10] W. N. Chen, “Statistical Analysis of Gepmorphic Condi tions Effection Loess Erosion in Loess RidgeHill Gully Region,” Scienti a Geographical Sinica, Vol. 8, No. 4, 1998, pp. 323329. Copyright © 2012 SciRes. IJG
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