The Applicability of LandTrendr to Surface Water Dynamics: A Case Study of Minnesota from 1984 to 2019 Using Google Earth Engine

Audrey C. Lothspeich, Joseph F. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The means to accurately monitor wetland change over time are crucial to wetland man-agement. This paper explores the applicability of LandTrendr, a temporal segmentation algorithm designed to identify significant interannual trends, to monitor wetlands by modeling surface water presence in Minnesota from 1984 to 2019. A time series of harmonized Landsat and Sentinel-2 data in the spring is developed in Google Earth Engine, and calculated to sub-pixel water fraction. The optimal parameters for modeling this time series with LandTrendr are identified by minimizing omission of known surface water locations, and the result of this optimal model of sub-pixel water fraction is evaluated against reference images and qualitatively. Accuracy of this method is high: overall accuracy is 98% and producer’s and user’s accuracies for inundation are 82% and 88% respectively. Maps summarizing the trendlines of multiple pixels, such as frequency of inundation over the past 35 years, also show LandTrendr as applied here can accurately model long-term trends in surface water presence across wetland types. However, the tendency of omission for more variable prairie pothole wetlands and the under-prediction of inundation for small or emergent wetlands suggests the algorithm will require careful development of the segmented time series to capture inundated conditions more accurately.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2662
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the EPA Region 5 Wetland Program Development Grant program, grant number CD-00E02740-0.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • change detection
  • LandTrendr
  • sub-pixel water fraction
  • surface water
  • time series analysis
  • wetland


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