Monitoring Andean high altitude wetlands in central Chile with seasonal optical data: A comparison between Worldview-2 and Sentinel-2 imagery


In the Maipo watershed, situated in central Chile, mining activities are impacting high altitude Andean wetlands through the consumption and exploitation of water and land. As wetlands are vulnerable and particularly susceptible to changes of water supply, alterations and modifications in the hydrological regime have direct effects on their ecophysiological condition and vegetation cover. The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential of Worldview-2 and Sentinel-2 sensors to identify and map Andean wetlands through the use of the one-class classifier Bias support vector machines (BSVM), and then to estimate soil moisture content of the identified wetlands during snow-free summer using partial least square regression. The results obtained in this research showed that the combination of remote sensing data and a small sample of ground reference measurements enables to map Andean high altitude wetlands with high accuracies. BSVM was capable to classify the meadow areas with an overall accuracy of over ∼78% for both sensors. Our results also indicate that it is feasible to map surface soil moisture with optical remote sensing data and simple regression approaches in the examined environment. Surface soil moisture estimates reached r2 values of up to 0.58, and normalized mean square errors of 19% using Sentinel-2 data, while Worldview-2 estimates resulted in non-satisfying results. The presented approach is particularly valuable for monitoring high-mountain wetland areas with limited accessibility such as in the Andes.

ISPRS J. Photogramm. Remote Sens.