Conventional, regression-based methods of inferring depth from passive optical image data undermine the advantages of remote sensing for characterizing river systems. This study introduces and evaluates a more flexible framework, Image-to-Depth Quantile Transformation (IDQT), that involves linking the frequency distribution of pixel values to that of depth. In addition, a new image processing workflow involving deep water correction and Minimum Noise Fraction (MNF) transformation can reduce a hyperspectral data set to a single variable related to depth and thus suitable for input to IDQT. Applied to a gravel bed river, IDQT avoided negative depth estimates along channel margins and underpredictions of pool depth. Depth retrieval accuracy (R25 0.79) and precision (0.27 m) were comparable to an established band ratio-based method, although a small shallow bias (0.04 m) was observed. Several ways of specifying distributions of pixel values and depths were evaluated but had negligible impact on the resulting depth estimates, implying that IDQT was robust to these implementation details. In essence, IDQT uses frequency distributions of pixel values and depths to achieve an aspatial calibration; the image itself provides information on the spatial distribution of depths. The approach thus reduces sensitivity to misalignment between field and image data sets and allows greater flexibility in the timing of field data collection relative to image acquisition, a significant advantage in dynamic channels. IDQT also creates new possibilities for depth retrieval in the absence of field data if a model could be used to predict the distribution of depths within a reach.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Inferring river bathymetry via Image-to-Depth Quantile Transformation (IDQT)|
|Series title||Water Resources Research|
|Contributing office(s)||National Research Program - Central Branch|
|Online Only (Y/N)||N|
|Additional Online Files (Y/N)||N|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|