Error and uncertainty in the accuracy assessment of land cover maps

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

Traditionally the accuracy assessment of land cover maps is performed through the comparison of these maps with a reference database, which is intended to represent the “real” land cover, being this comparison reported with the thematic accuracy measures through confusion matrixes. Although, these reference databases are also a representation of reality, containing errors due to the human uncertainty in the assignment of the land cover class that best characterizes a certain area, causing bias in the thematic accuracy measures that are reported to the end users of these maps. The main goal of this dissertation is to develop a methodology that allows the integration of human uncertainty present in reference databases in the accuracy assessment of land cover maps, and analyse the impacts that uncertainty may have in the thematic accuracy measures reported to the end users of land cover maps. The utility of the inclusion of human uncertainty in the accuracy assessment of land cover maps is investigated. Specifically we studied the utility of fuzzy sets theory, more precisely of fuzzy arithmetic, for a better understanding of human uncertainty associated to the elaboration of reference databases, and their impacts in the thematic accuracy measures that are derived from confusion matrixes. For this purpose linguistic values transformed in fuzzy intervals that address the uncertainty in the elaboration of reference databases were used to compute fuzzy confusion matrixes. The proposed methodology is illustrated using a case study in which the accuracy assessment of a land cover map for Continental Portugal derived from Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) is made. The obtained results demonstrate that the inclusion of human uncertainty in reference databases provides much more information about the quality of land cover maps, when compared with the traditional approach of accuracy assessment of land cover maps.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • NOVA Information Management School (NOVA IMS)
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Caetano, Mário, Supervisor
  • Fonte, Cidália Costa, Supervisor, External person
  • Stehman, Stephen V., Supervisor, External person
Award date25 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2015

Keywords

  • Land cover
  • Accuracy assessment
  • Reference databases
  • Human uncertainty
  • Fuzzy intervals
  • Thematic accuracy measures

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