Machine Learning Approaches to Automatically Detect Glacier Snow Lines on Multi-Spectral Satellite Images
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionRemote Sensing. 2022, 14 (16), . 10.3390/rs14163868
Documenting the inter-annual variability and the long-term trend of the glacier snow line altitude is highly relevant to document the evolution of glacier mass changes. Automatically identifying the snow line on glaciers is challenging; recent developments in machine learning approaches show promise to tackle this issue. This manuscript presents a proof of concept of machine learning approaches applied to multi-spectral images to detect the snow line and quantify its average altitude. The tested approaches include the combination of different image processing and classification methods, and takes into account cast shadows. The efficiency of these approaches is evaluated on mountain glaciers in the European Alps by comparing the results with manually annotated data. Solutions provided by the different approaches are robust when compared to the ground truth’s snow lines, with a Pearson’s correlation ranging from 79% to 96% depending on the method. However, the tested approaches may fail when snow lines are not continuous or exhibit a strong change of elevation. The major advantage over the state of the art is that the proposed approach does not require one calibration per glacier.