Essential Image Processing and GIS for Remote Sensing

Jian Guo Liu
Philippa J. Mason

Imperial College London, UK

This edition first published 2009, # 2009 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Overview of the Book

From an applied viewpoint, and mainly for Earth observation, remote sensing is a tool for collecting raster data or images. Remotely sensed images represent an objective record of the spectrum relating to the physical properties and chemical composition of the Earth surface materials. Extracting information from images is, on the other hand, a subjective process. People with differing application foci will derive very different thematic information from the same source image. Image processing thus becomes a vital tool for the extraction of thematic and/or quantitative information from raw image data. For more comprehensive analysis, the images need to be analysed in conjunction with other complementary data, such as existing thematic maps of topography, geomorphology, geology and land use, or with geochemical and geophysical survey data, or ‘ground truth’ data, logistical and infrastructure information, which is where the geographical information system (GIS) comes into play. GIS contains highly sophisticated tools for the management, display and analysis of all kinds of spatially referenced information.

Remote sensing, image processing and GIS are all extremely broad subjects in their own right and are far too broad to be covered in one book. As illustrated in Figure 1, this book aims to pinpoint the overlap between the three subjects, providing an overview of essential techniques and a selection of case studies in a variety of application areas. The application cases are biased towards the earth sciences but the image processing and GIS techniques are generic and therefore transferable skills suited to all applications.

In this book, we have presented a unique combination of tools, techniques and applications which we hope will be of use to a wide community of ‘geoscientists’ and ‘remote sensors’. The book begins in Part One with the fundamentals of the core image processing tools used in remote sensing
and GIS with adequate mathematical details. It then becomes slightly more applied and less mathematical in Part Two to cover the wide scope of GIS where many of those core image processing tools are used in different contexts. Part Three contains the entirely applied part of the book where we describe a selection of cases where image processing and GIS have been used, by us, in teaching, research and industrial projects in which there is a dominant remote sensing component. The book has been written with university students and lecturers in mind as a principal textbook. For students’ needs in particular, we have tried to convey knowledge in simple words, with clear explanations and with conceptual illustrations. For image processing and GIS, mathematics is unavoidable, but we understand that this may be offputting for some. To minimize such effects, we try to emphasize the concepts, explaining in common-sense terms rather than in too much mathematical detail. The result is intended to be a comprehensive yet ‘easy learning’ solution to a fairly challenging topic.

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