Thin clouds in remote sensing images increase the radiometric distortion of land surfaces. The identification of pixels contaminated by thin clouds, known as the thin-cloud mask, is an important preprocessing procedure to guarantee the proper utilization of data. However, failure to effectively separate thin clouds and high-reflective land-cover features causes thin-cloud masks to remain a challenge. To overcome this problem, we developed a thin-cloud masking method for remote sensing images based on sparse dark pixel region detection. As a result of the effect of scattering, the path radiance is added to the radiance recorded by the sensor in the thin-cloud area, which causes the number of dark pixels in the thin-cloud area to be much less than that in the clear area. In this study, the area of a Thiessen polygon (a nonparametric measure) is used to evaluate the density of local dark pixels, and the region with the sparse dark pixel is selected as the thin-cloud candidate. Then, thin-cloud and clear areas are used as samples to train the background suppression haze thickness index (BSHTI) transform parameters, and convert the original multiband images into single-band images. Finally, an accurate thin-cloud mask is obtained for every buffered thin-cloud candidate, via the segmentation of the BSHTI band. Additionally, the multispectral images obtained by the Wide Field View (WFV), on board the Chinese GaoFen1, and the Operational Land Imager (OLI), on board the Landsat 8, are employed to evaluate the performance of the method. The results reveal that the proposed approach can obtain a thin-cloud mask with a high true-value ratio and detection ratio. Thin-cloud masks can satisfy various application demands.
Wu, W., Luo, J., Hu, X., Yang, H., & Yang, Y. (2018). A thin-cloud mask method for remote sensing images based on sparse dark pixel region detection. Remote Sensing, 10(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040617