Dust storms are important phenomena over large regions of the arid and semi-arid areas of the Middle East. Due to the influences of dust aerosols on climate and human daily activities, dust detection plays a crucial role in environmental and climatic studies. Detection of dust storms is critical to accurately understand dust, their properties and distribution. Currently, remotely sensed data such as MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) with appropriate temporal and spectral resolutions have been widely used for this purpose. This paper investigates the capability of two physical-based methods, and random forests (RF) classifier, for the first time, to detect dust storms using MODIS imagery. Since the physical-based approaches are empirical, they suffer from certain drawbacks such as high variability of thresholds depending on the underlying surface. Therefore, classification-based approaches could be deployed as an alternative. In this paper, the most relevant bands are chosen based on the physical effects of the major classes, particularly dust, cloud and snow, on both emissive infrared and reflective bands. In order to verify the capability of the methods, OMAERUV AAOD (aerosol absorption optical depth) product from OMI (Ozone Monitoring Instrument) sensor is exploited. In addition, some small regions are selected manually to be considered as ground truth for measuring the probability of false detection (POFD) and probability of missing detection (POMD). The dust class generated by RF is consistent qualitatively with the location and extent of dust observed in OMERAUV and MODIS true colour images. Quantitatively, the dust classes generated for eight dust outbreaks in the Middle East are found to be accurate from 7% and 6% of POFD and POMD respectively. Moreover, results demonstrate the sound capability of RF in classifying dust plumes over both water and land simultaneously. The performance of the physical-based approaches is found weaker than RF due to empirical thresholds that are not always true.
Volume 129, 2020
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