Document Type



Forest disturbances greatly affect the ecological functioning of natural forests. Timely information regarding extent, timing and magnitude of forest disturbance events is crucial for effective disturbance management strategies. Yet, we still lack accurate, near-real-time and high-performance remote sensing tools for monitoring abrupt and subtle forest disturbances. This study presents a new approach called ‘Stochastic Continuous Change Detection (S-CCD)’ using a dense Landsat data time series. S-CCD improves upon the ‘COntinuous monitoring of Land Disturbance (COLD)’ approach by incorporating a mathematical tool called the ‘state space model’, which treats trends and seasonality as stochastic processes, allowing for modeling temporal dynamics of satellite observations in a recursive way. The quantitative accuracy assessment is evaluated based on 3782 Landsat-based disturbance reference plots (30 m) from a probability sampling distributed throughout the Conterminous United States. Validation results show that the overall accuracy (best F1 score) of S-CCD is 0.793 with 20% omission error and 21% commission error, slightly higher than that of COLD (0.789). Two disturbance sites respectively associated with wildfire and insect disturbances are used for qualitative map-based analysis. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses suggest that S-CCD achieves fewer omission errors than COLD for detecting those disturbances with subtle/gradual spectral change. In addition, S-CCD facilitates a better real-time monitoring, benefited by its complete recursive manner and a shorter lag for confirming disturbance than COLD (126 days vs. 166 days for alerting 50% disturbance events), and reached up to ~4.4 times speedup for computation. This research addresses the need for near-real-time monitoring and large-scale mapping of forest health and offers a new approach for operationally performing change detection tasks from dense Landsat-based time series.

Publication Title

Remote Sensing of Environment

Publication Date









forest disturbance, Kalman filter, Landsat, near real-time, state space model, time series analysis

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Included in

Geography Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.