Identification of Upwelling Areas on Sea Surface Temperature Images using Fuzzy Clustering

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Sixteen sea surface temperature (SST) images obtained over the coastal ocean of Portugal during the period September 1992-September 2003 were used aiming to identify automatically the areas covered by upwelling waters. Suitable high resolution colour scales were applied to the SST images in order to enhance the thermal patterns and easily identify the waters with a coastal upwelling origin. The automatic identification of the areas covered by upwelling waters was developed by the authors in a previous work, through the application of fuzzy clustering and validation indexes, and here is explored as an oceanographic application to the Portuguese coastal upwelling. The fuzzy c-means (FCM) algorithm showed to be able to find partitions that closely defined the upwelling areas and the visualization of the fuzzy c-partitions was achieved through the application of a colour scale. The Xie-Beni validation index was used to select the c-partition that best represented the stage of the upwelling event and showed an agreement with the oceanographic interpretation in 10 of the 14 SST segmented images used in this work. Two SST images without upwelling were also used in order to check the response of the algorithm to the absence of the phenomena. The computation of the matching rate between a c-partition and the two areas split by the hand-contoured upwelling boundary also allowed the evaluation of how closely the obtained segmentation reproduced the shape of the areas covered by upwelling waters. This method successfully identified the upwelling boundary regions in 10 of the 14 SST images. The values obtained for the matching rate were higher than 0.77, thus indicating the good quality of the fuzzy partitions. The segmented images with 3 or 4 clusters were the most suitable ones to reproduce the areas covered by upwelling waters, but it was also shown that, for some cases, the upwelling areas could be reasonably well reproduced by the FCM 2-partition images. While in the latter, the area covered with upwelling waters was coincident with the first cluster, in the former, the segmented image showed two clusters within the upwelling area: the first cluster coincided with the area occupied by the most recently upwelled waters near the coast, while the second cluster was coincident with the area occupied by the "older" upwelling waters with its extensions offshore, the so-called cold filaments. The FCM algorithm revealed to be a promising technique in the automatic identification of upwelling areas on SST images.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)2817-2823
JournalRemote Sensing Of Environment
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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