Dune Vegetation Identification from Satellite high-resolution images


Recent improvements in spectral and spatial resolution of satellite imagery open new and exciting prospects for large-scale environmental monitoring. Still this potential is largely unused in dune ecogeomorphology, due to the challenges related with the small size and density of dune plants and the complexity and heterogeneity of the existing species. Machine learning techniques and subpixel classification methodologies, like the Random Forest Soft Classification (RFSC), have shown promising results in similarly challenging environments in terms of plant size and heterogeneity, with high accuracies in subpixel fractional abundance of marsh-vegetation species. Even though subpixel classification could improve monitoring biodiversity from satellite imagery, similar approaches have never been tested for dune environments.

Project Main Goals:

Test initial scientific hypothesis that RFSC methods can be successfully used to identify dune plant species from high-resolution satellite imagery.

Optimise the subpixel classification methodology, assess its predictive capacity and identify potential limitations.

Improve current capacity in monitoring coastal dune vegetation through satellite data.


Susana Costas, 'Exploring coastal dune adaptation through a simplified process-based morphodynamic model', Invited talk for the International Society for Aeolian Research (ISAR) Seminar series, July 13th, 2022.

Susana Costas, (2020). How do we measure changes in beaches and dunes?, talk (in portuguese) directed to secondary school students, 24 November 2020, Do Laboratório para todos, Centro de Ciencia Viva do Algarve.


Ceará State University: Davis Pereira de Paula | Francisco Rodrigo Cunha de Sousa

Ciencia Viva Center of Algarve: Emanuel Reis | Luis Gonçalves

Project Consultants: Dano Roelvink (IHE-Delft) | Irene Delgado (Edge Hill University) | Derek Jackson (Ulster University) | Theocharis Plomaritis (University of Cadiz)