Journal article Open Access
Earth observation images are a powerful source of data about changes in our planet. Given the magnitude of global environmental changes taking place, it is important that Earth Science researchers have access to spatiotemporal reasoning tools. One area of particular interest is land-use change. Using data obtained from images, researchers would like to express abstractions such as ‘land abandonment’, ‘forest regrowth’, and ‘agricultural intensification’. These abstractions are specific types of land-use trajectories, defined as multi-year paths from one land cover into another. Given this need, this paper introduces a spatiotemporal calculus for reasoning about land-use trajectories. Using Allen’s interval logic as a basis, we introduce new predicates that express cases of recurrence, conversion and evolution in land-use change. The proposed predicates are sufficient and necessary to express different kinds of land-use trajectories. Users can build expressions that describe how humans modify Earth’s terrestrial surface. In this way, scientists can better understand the environmental and economic effects of land-use change.