MAPPING ERODED AREAS ON MOUNTAIN GRASSLAND WITH TERRESTRIAL PHOTOGRAMMETRY AND OBJECT-BASED IMAGE ANALYSIS
Keywords: Image Matching, OBIA, Erosion, Geomorphological Mapping, Thresholding, Excess Green Vegetation Index
Abstract. In the Alps as well as in other mountain regions steep grassland is frequently affected by shallow erosion. Often small landslides or snow movements displace the vegetation together with soil and/or unconsolidated material. This results in bare earth surface patches within the grass covered slope. Close-range and remote sensing techniques are promising for both mapping and monitoring these eroded areas. This is essential for a better geomorphological process understanding, to assess past and recent developments, and to plan mitigation measures. Recent developments in image matching techniques make it feasible to produce high resolution orthophotos and digital elevation models from terrestrial oblique images. In this paper we propose to delineate the boundary of eroded areas for selected scenes of a study area, using close-range photogrammetric data. Striving for an efficient, objective and reproducible workflow for this task, we developed an approach for automated classification of the scenes into the classes grass and eroded. We propose an object-based image analysis (OBIA) workflow which consists of image segmentation and automated threshold selection for classification using the Excess Green Vegetation Index (ExG). The automated workflow is tested with ten different scenes. Compared to a manual classification, grass and eroded areas are classified with an overall accuracy between 90.7% and 95.5%, depending on the scene. The methods proved to be insensitive to differences in illumination of the scenes and greenness of the grass. The proposed workflow reduces user interaction and is transferable to other study areas. We conclude that close-range photogrammetry is a valuable low-cost tool for mapping this type of eroded areas in the field with a high level of detail and quality. In future, the output will be used as ground truth for an area-wide mapping of eroded areas in coarser resolution aerial orthophotos acquired at the same time.