Characterizing landscape patterns and revealing their underlying processes are critical for studying climate change and environmental problems. Previous methods for mapping land cover changes largely focused on the classification of remote sensing images. Therefore, they could not provide information about the evolutionary process of land cover changes. In this paper, we developed a spatiotemporal structural graph (STSG) technique for a comprehensive analysis of land cover changes. First, a land cover neighborhood graph was generated for each snapshot to quantify the spatial relationship between adjacent land cover objects. Then, an object-based temporal tracking algorithm was designed to monitor the temporal changes between land cover objects over time. Finally, land cover evolutionary trajectories, pixel-level land cover change trajectories, and node-wise connectivity changes over time were characterized. We applied the proposed method to analyze land cover changes in Suffolk County, New York from 1996 to 2010. The results demonstrated that STSG can not only characterize and visualize detailed land cover changes spatially but also maintain the temporal sequence and relations of land cover objects in an integrated space-time environment. The proposed STSG provides a useful framework for analyzing land cover changes and can be adapted to characterize and quantify other spatiotemporal phenomena.
Wu, B., Yu, B., Shu, S., Wu, Q., Zhao, Y., & Wu, J. (2021). A spatiotemporal structural graph for characterizing land cover changes. International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 35(2), 397–425. https://doi.org/10.1080/13658816.2020.1778706