Reconstruction of time-varying tidal flat topography using optical remote sensing imageries

Kuo Hsin Tseng, Chung Yen Kuo, Tang Huang Lin, Zhi Cheng Huang, Yu Ching Lin, Wen Hung Liao, Chi Farn Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Tidal flats (TFs) occupy approximately 7% of the total coastal shelf areas worldwide. However, TFs are unavailable in most global digital elevation models (DEMs) due to water-impermeable nature of existing remote sensing approaches (e.g., radar used for WorldDEM™ and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission DEM and optical stereo-pairs used for ASTER Global Digital Elevation Map Version 2). However, this problem can be circumvented using remote sensing imageries to observe land exposure at different tidal heights during each revisit. This work exploits Landsat-4/-5/-7/-8 Thematic Mapper (TM)/Enhanced TM Plus/Operational Land Imager imageries to reconstruct topography of a TF, namely, Hsiang-Shan Wetland in Taiwan, to unveil its formation and temporal changes since the 1980s. We first classify water areas by applying modified normalized difference water index to each Landsat image and normalize chances of water exposure to create an inundation probability map. This map is then scaled by tidal amplitudes extracted from DTU10 tide model to convert the probabilities into actual elevations. After building DEM at intertidal zone, a water level-area curve is established, and accuracy of DEM is validated by sea level (SL) at the timing of each Landsat snapshot. A 22-year (1992–2013) dataset composed of 227 Landsat scenes are analyzed and compared with tide gauge data. Root-mean-square differences of SL reaches 48 cm with a correlation coefficient of 0.93, indicating that the present technique is useful for constructing accurate coastal DEMs, and that products can be utilized for estimating instant SL. This study shows the possibility of exploring evolution of intertidal zones using an archive of optical remote sensing imageries. The technique developed in the present study potentially helps in quantifying SL from the start of optical remote sensing era.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-103
Number of pages12
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sept

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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