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    Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 Data for Savannah Land Cover Mapping: Optimising the Combination of Sensors and Seasons

    Borges, Joana, Higginbottom, Thomas P, Symeonakis, Elias ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1724-2869 and Jones, Martin ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2510-8697 (2020) Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 Data for Savannah Land Cover Mapping: Optimising the Combination of Sensors and Seasons. Remote Sensing, 12 (23). p. 3862.

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    Savannahs are heterogeneous environments with an important role in supporting biodiversity and providing essential ecosystem services. Due to extensive land use/cover changes and subsequent land degradation, the provision of ecosystems services from savannahs has increasingly declined over recent years. Mapping the extent and the composition of savannah environments is challenging but essential in order to improve monitoring capabilities, prevent biodiversity loss and ensure the provision of ecosystem services. Here, we tested combinations of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data from three different seasons to optimise land cover mapping, focusing in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) in Tanzania. The NCA has a bimodal rainfall pattern and is composed of a combination savannah and woodland landscapes. The best performing model achieved an overall accuracy of 86.3 ± 1.5% and included a combination of Sentinel-1 and 2 from the dry and short-dry seasons. Our results show that the optical models outperform their radar counterparts, the combination of multisensor data improves the overall accuracy in all scenarios and this is particularly advantageous in single-season models. Regarding the effect of season, models that included the short-dry season outperform the dry and wet season models, as this season is able to provide cloud free data and is wet enough to allow for the distinction between woody and herbaceous vegetation. Additionally, the combination of more than one season is beneficial for the classification, specifically if it includes the dry or the short-dry season. Combining several seasons is, overall, more beneficial for single-sensor data; however, the accuracies varied with land cover. In summary, the combination of several seasons and sensors provides a more accurate classification, but the target vegetation types should be taken into consideration.

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