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High-dimensional detection of Landscape Dynamics: a Landsat time series-based algorithm for forest disturbance mapping and beyond

Morresi, Donato; Maeng, Hyeyoung; Marzano, Raffaella; Lingua, Emanuele; Motta, Renzo; Garbarino, Matteo

High-dimensional detection of Landscape Dynamics: a Landsat time series-based algorithm for forest disturbance mapping and beyond Thumbnail


Donato Morresi

Raffaella Marzano

Emanuele Lingua

Renzo Motta

Matteo Garbarino


Time series analysis of medium-resolution multispectral satellite imagery is critical to investigate forest disturbance dynamics at the landscape scale. In particular, the spatial, temporal, and radiometric consistency of Landsat time series data provides unprecedented insight into past disturbances that occurred over the last four decades. Several Landsat time series-based algorithms have been developed to automate the detection of forest disturbances. However, automated detection of non-stand-replacing disturbances based on Landsat time series remains a challenging task due to the difficulty of effectively separating them from spectral noise. Here, we present the High-dimensional detection of Landscape Dynamics (HILANDYN) algorithm, which exploits spatial and spectral information provided by Landsat time series to detect forest disturbance dynamics retrospectively. A novel and unsupervised procedure for changepoint detection in high-dimensional time series allows HILANDYN to perform the temporal segmentation of inter-annual time series into linear trends. The algorithm embeds a noise filter to remove spurious changepoints caused by residual spectral noise in the time series. We tested HILANDYN to detect disturbances that occurred in the forests of the European Alps over a period of 39 years, i.e. between 1984 and 2022, and evaluated its accuracy using a validation dataset of 3000 plots randomly located inside and outside the disturbed patches. We compared HILANDYN with the Bayesian Estimator of Abrupt change, Seasonality, and Trend (BEAST), which is a well-established and high-performing time series-based algorithm for changepoint detection. The quantitative results highlighted that the number of bands, i.e. original Landsat bands and spectral indices, included in the high-dimensional time series and the threshold controlling the significance of changepoints strongly influenced the user’s accuracy (UA). Conversely, changes in the combinations of bands primarily affected the producer’s accuracy (PA). HILANDYN achieved an F1 score of 0.801, which increased to 0.833 when we activated the noise filter, allowing the algorithm to balance UA (83.1%) and PA (83.5%). The qualitative results showed that disturbed forest patches detected by HILANDYN were characterized by a high spatio-temporal consistency, regardless of the disturbance severity. Furthermore, our algorithm was able to detect forest patches associated with secondary disturbances, such as salvage logging, that occur in close succession with respect to the primary event. The comparison with BEAST evidenced a similar sensitivity of the algorithms to non-stand-replacing events, as both achieved comparable PA. However, BEAST struggled to balance UA and PA when using a single parameter set, achieving a maximum F1 score of 0.717. Moreover, the computational efficiency of BEAST in processing high-dimensional time series was very limited due to its univariate nature based on the Bayesian approach. The adaptability of HILANDYN to detect a wide range of disturbance severities using a single parameter set and its computational efficiency in handling high-dimensional time series promotes its scalability to large study areas characterized by heterogeneous ecological conditions.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 3, 2024
Online Publication Date Jun 12, 2024
Publication Date Dec 31, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 2, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2024
Journal GIScience & Remote Sensing
Print ISSN 1548-1603
Electronic ISSN 1943-7226
Publisher Bellweather Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 61
Issue 1
Article Number 2365001
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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial License (, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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