Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/nhess-2017-120
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
10 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Regional snow-avalanche detection using object-based image analysis of near-infrared aerial imagery
Karolina Korzeniowska1,2, Yves Bühler3, Mauro Marty4, and Oliver Korup2 13D Mapping, BSF Swissphoto GmbH, Schönefeld, 12529, Germany
2Geohazards Research Group, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, 14476, Germany
3WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, 7260, Switzerland
4Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf, 8903, Swizterland
Abstract. Snow avalanches are destructive natural hazards in mountain regions that continue to claim lives, and cause infrastructural damage and traffic detours. Given that avalanches often occur in remote and poorly-accessible steep terrain, their detection and mapping is extensive and time consuming. Nonetheless, systematic avalanche detection over large areas could help to generate more complete and up-to-date inventories (cadastres) necessary for validating avalanche forecasting and hazard mapping. In this study, we have focused on automatically detecting avalanches and classifying them into release zones, tracks, and runout zones based on 0.25-m near-infrared (NIR) ADS80-SH92 aerial imagery using an object-based image analysis (OBIA) approach. Our algorithm takes into account the brightness, the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI), and the normalised difference water index (NDWI) and its standard deviation (SDNDWI) in order to distinguish avalanches from other land-surface elements. Using normalised parameters allows readily applying this method across large areas. We trained the method by analysing the properties of snow avalanches at three 4-km2 areas near Davos, Switzerland. We compared the results with manually-mapped avalanche polygons, and obtained a user's accuracy of > 0.9 and a Cohen's kappa of 0.79–0.85. Testing the method for a larger area of 226.3 km2, we estimated producer's and user's accuracies of 0.61 and 0.78, respectively, with a Cohen's kappa of 0.67. Detected avalanches that overlapped with reference data by > 80 % occurred randomly throughout the testing area, showing that our method avoids overfitting. Our method shows potential in large-scale avalanche mapping, although further investigations into other regions are desirable to verify the stability of our selected thresholds and the transferability of the method.

Citation: Korzeniowska, K., Bühler, Y., Marty, M., and Korup, O.: Regional snow-avalanche detection using object-based image analysis of near-infrared aerial imagery, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/nhess-2017-120, in review, 2017.
Karolina Korzeniowska et al.
Karolina Korzeniowska et al.
Karolina Korzeniowska et al.

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In this study, we have focused on automatically detecting avalanches and classifying them into release zones, tracks, and runout zones based on aerial imagery using an object-based image analysis (OBIA) approach. We compared the results with manually-mapped avalanche polygons, and obtained a user's accuracy of > 0.9 and a Cohen's kappa of 0.79–0.85. Testing the method for a larger area of 226.3 km2, we estimated producer's and user's accuracies of 0.61 and 0.78, respectively.
In this study, we have focused on automatically detecting avalanches and classifying them into...
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