Retrieval of Tidal Flat Elevation Based on Remotely Sensed Moisture Approach

Huan Li, Mark Cutler, Dong Zhang, Samuel Daramola, Yaquan Zhu, Zheng Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


Due to challenging conditions of field survey techniques, it is difficult to measure the topography of tidal flats, an important parameter to understanding the evolution and dynamics of the constantly changing zone. This study used remotely sensed sediment moisture estimates to retrieve tidal flat elevation. The method is based on the observation that the intertidal zone is gradually exposed from land to sea at low tide, meaning that higher elevations contain less moisture. Here, we investigate the nature of the relationship between reflectance and moisture content from Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus images and the study areas as a proxy for mapping the elevation of an exposed tidal flat surface. Statistical analysis confirmed a negative correlation between moisture and elevation; however, the correlation coefficient was relatively weak, and the slope of the intersecting tidal creek was found to be a crucial factor affecting this relationship. After segmenting the slope to correspond to areas of tidal flat and nontidal flat surfaces, the correlation coefficient of the moisture and elevation increased significantly. A retrieval model was then developed to generate the tidal flat elevations of different slope grades. After verification, the retrieval accuracy of the model was up to 17.3 cm. This research study demonstrated that the remotely sensed moisture method is suitable for monitoring the surface elevation of tidal flats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5357-5370
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Early online date29 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2022


  • elevation
  • Landsat
  • Moisture
  • Reflectivity
  • Remote sensing
  • remotely sensed moisture
  • Sea measurements
  • Sea surface
  • Sediments
  • Surface topography
  • Tidal flats
  • topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science


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