Decision tree and texture analysis for mapping debris-covered glaciers in the Kangchenjunga area, eastern Himalaya

Adina Racoviteanu*, Mark W. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (SciVal)
33 Downloads (Pure)


In this study we use visible, short-wave infrared and thermal Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data validated with high-resolution Quickbird (QB) and Worldview2 (WV2) for mapping debris cover in the eastern Himalaya using two independent approaches: (a) a decision tree algorithm, and (b) texture analysis. The decision tree algorithm was based on multi-spectral and topographic variables, such as band ratios, surface reflectance, kinetic temperature from ASTER bands 10 and 12, slope angle, and elevation. The decision tree algorithm resulted in 64 km 2 classified as debris-covered ice, which represents 11% of the glacierized area. Overall, for ten glacier tongues in the Kangchenjunga area, there was an area difference of 16.2 km 2 (25%) between the ASTER and the QB areas, with mapping errors mainly due to clouds and shadows. Texture analysis techniques included co-occurrence measures, geostatistics and filtering in spatial/frequency domain. Debris cover had the highest variance of all terrain classes, highest entropy and lowest homogeneity compared to the other classes, for example a mean variance of 15.27 compared to 0 for clouds and 0.06 for clean ice. Results of the texture image for debris-covered areas were comparable with those from the decision tree algorithm, with 8% area difference between the two techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3078-3109
Number of pages32
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aster
  • Debris-covered glaciers
  • Multi-spectral
  • Optical remote sensing
  • Sikkim himalaya


Dive into the research topics of 'Decision tree and texture analysis for mapping debris-covered glaciers in the Kangchenjunga area, eastern Himalaya'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this