Supervised classification of landforms in Arctic mountains

Huw Thomas Mithan (Lead / Corresponding author), Tristram Charles Hales, Peter John Cleall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
77 Downloads (Pure)


Erosional and sediment fluxes from Arctic mountains are lower than for temperate mountain ranges due to the influence of permafrost on geomorphic processes. As permafrost extent declines in Arctic mountains, the spatial distribution of geomorphic processes and rates will change. Improved access to high-quality remotely sensed topographic data in the Arctic provides an opportunity to develop our understanding of the spatial distribution of Arctic geomorphological processes and landforms. Utilizing newly available Arctic digital topography data, we have developed a method for geomorphic mapping using a pixel-based linear discriminant analysis method that could be applied across Arctic mountains. We trained our classifier using landforms within the Adventdalen catchment in Svalbard and applied it to two adjacent catchments and one in Alaska. Slope gradient, elevation–relief ratio and landscape roughness distinguish landforms to a first order with >80% accuracy. Our simple classification system has a similar overall accuracy when compared across our field sites. The simplicity and robustness of our classification suggest that it is possible to use it to understand the distribution of Arctic mountain landforms using extant digital topography data and without specialized classifications. Our preliminary assessments of the distribution of geomorphic processes within these catchments demonstrate the importance of post-glacial hillslope processes in governing sediment movement in Arctic mountains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-145
Number of pages15
JournalPermafrost and Periglacial Processes
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2019


  • Alaska, geomorphometry
  • Svalbard
  • linear discriminant analysis
  • periglacial landforms
  • supervised classification


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