Joint Characterization of the Cryospheric Spectral Feature Space

by   Christopher Small, et al.

Hyperspectral feature spaces are useful for many remote sensing applications ranging from spectral mixture modeling to discrete thematic classification. In such cases, characterization of the feature space dimensionality, geometry and topology can provide guidance for effective model design. The objective of this study is to compare and contrast two approaches for identifying feature space basis vectors via dimensionality reduction. These approaches can be combined to render a joint characterization that reveals spectral properties not apparent using either approach alone. We use a diverse collection of AVIRIS-NG reflectance spectra of the snow-firn-ice continuum to illustrate the utility of joint characterization and identify physical properties inferred from the spectra. Spectral feature spaces combining principal components (PCs) and t-distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embeddings (t-SNEs) provide physically interpretable dimensions representing the global (PC) structure of cryospheric reflectance properties and local (t-SNE) manifold structures revealing clustering not resolved in the global continuum. Joint characterization reveals distinct continua for snow-firn gradients on different parts of the Greenland Ice Sheet and multiple clusters of ice reflectance properties common to both glacier and sea ice in different locations. Clustering revealed in t-SNE feature spaces, and extended to the joint characterization, distinguishes differences in spectral curvature specific to location within the snow accumulation zone, and BRDF effects related to view geometry. The ability of PC+t-SNE joint characterization to produce a physically interpretable spectral feature spaces revealing global topology while preserving local manifold structures suggests that this characterization might be extended to the much higher dimensional hyperspectral feature space of all terrestrial land cover.


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