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Land use classification of the Greater Vancouver area : a review of selected methods Sinha, Jayati

Abstract

Accurate and current land use information for urban areas is important for effective management and planning. Over the years, researchers/planners have relied heavily on aerial photographs for land use information of urban areas because of the limitations of deriving more accurate land use estimates from satellite remote sensing data. The main problem involved in producing accurate land use maps of cities and towns from satellite images is that urban areas consist of a complex assemblage of different land cover types, many of which have very similar spectral reflectance characteristics. This is because land use is an abstract concept- n amalgam of economic, social and cultural factors-that is defined in terms of functions rather than forms. The relationship between land use and the multispectral signals detected by a satellite sensor is therefore both complex and indirect. In many European cities, residential areas are characterized by a complex spatial assemblage of tile roof, slate roof, glass roof buildings, as well as tarmac, concrete and pitch roads, and gardens (comprised of grass lawns, trees and plants). In North American cities, roofing materials are more commonly composed of wood and shingles. In both settings all these "objects" together form the residential areas or residential districts of town or city, but each of them has a different spectral reflectance. So, in generating a land use map from remotely sensed image, buildings, roads, gardens, open spaces will be identified separately. Keeping this in mind, this thesis evaluates eight selected land use classification methods for the Vancouver metropolitan area, identifies the most accurate and suitable method for urban land use classification, and produces a land use map of the study area based on the most suitable method. The study area is a part of Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD). It includes Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Delta, and parts of seven other municipalities. The whole area is highly urbanized and commercialized. Agricultural lands are present in the southern part of the study area (which includes parts of Richmond, Delta and Surrey). For this study four sources of data have been used. The 1996 Greater Vancouver regional District (GVRD) land use map is the basic source of land use information. A remotely sensed image of May 1999 (Landsat 7) has been used for the identification of land cover data, Vancouver and Fraser valley orthophotos (May/July 1995) have been used to locate sample sites, and aerial photos of May 1999 (1:30,000) have been used for ground verification.

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