Linear disturbances from the construction of pipelines, roads and seismic lines for oil and gas extraction and mining have caused landscape changes in Western Canada; however these linear features are not well recorded. Inventory maps of pipelines, seismic lines and temporary access routes created by resource exploration are essential to understanding the processes causing ecological changes in order to coordinate resource development, emergency response and wildlife management. Mapping these linear disturbances traditionally relies on manual digitizing from very high resolution remote sensing data, which usually limits results to small operational area. Extending mapping to large areas is challenging due to complexity of image processing and high logistical costs. With increased availability of low cost satellite data, more frequent and regular observations are available and offer potential solutions for extracting information on linear disturbances.

This paper proposes a novel approach to incorporate spectral, geometric and temporal information for detecting linear features based on time series data analysis of regularly acquired, and low cost satellite data. This approach involves two steps: multi-scale directional line detection and line updating based on time series analysis. This automatic method can effectively extract very narrow linear features, including seismic lines, roads and pipelines. The proposed method has been tested over three sites in Alberta, Canada by detecting linear disturbances occurring over the period of 1984–2013 using Landsat imagery. It is expected that extracted linear features would be used to facilitate preparation of baseline maps and up-to-date information needed for environmental assessment, especially in extended remote areas.

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