PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2010, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (9): 1143-1152.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2010.09.018

• Original Articles • Previous Articles    

Remote Sensing of Impervious Surface and Its Applications: A Review

LIU Zhenhuan1,2, WANG Yanglin2, PENG Jian2   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory for Urban Habitat Environmental Science and Technology, School of Urban Planning and Design, Shenzhen Graduate School of Peking University, Shenzhen 518055;
    2. Key Laboratory for Earth Suuace Processes of Ministry of Education, and College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2010-01-01 Revised:2010-05-01 Online:2010-09-25 Published:2010-09-25


Impervious surface can be defined as any materials that prevent the infiltration of water into the soil. Principally, roads and rooftops in the urban are the most prevalent and easily identified types of impervious surfaces. Other types include sidewalks, patios, bedrock outcrops, and compacted soils in the urban areas. Impervious surface not only indicates urbanization, but also is a major contrihutor to the environmental impacts of urbanization. Impervious surface area (ISA) is the index of impervious surface landscape components, which uses the percentage in a pixel for representation. It is an index to monitor the urban ecological system and environmental change, and is an important indicator of the ecological and environmental model, which can affect urban hydrological cycle, surface runoff, water quality, local climate, and biological diversity. This paper reviews the development of remote sensing technology of impervious surface, and summarizes how it impacts urban ecosystem and urban environmental system. From the aspect of remote sensing technology, sub-pixel decomposition including spectral mixture analysis and regression analysis, and other new methods for interpreting image, will be the trend of the application of remote sensing research to urban natural resources and environmental studies in the future. From the aspect of remote sensing data source, the data of medium-resolution (10-100 m) image and high-resolution (0.3-5 m) image, which are used to estimate the index of impervious surface in multi-temporal and large-spatial area, can provide a reliable basis to monitor urban land use/cover change and environmental response. As an environmental indicator, impervious surface area (ISA) can be used to monitor urban land cover change and simulate future urban development, providing a basis for the decision making of urban planning and management. Referring to the fact that impervious surface has an important relation to the hydrological cycle, non-point source pollution, land surface temperature, vegetation variation and biological diversity, if we can understand the relationship between impervious surface area and the environmental or ecological indicators, we(an better understand urban landscape pattern and ecological processes. Impervious surface area plays an important role in studying the eco-environmental effects of urbanization.

Key words: environmental indicator, impervious surface area, remote sensing of impervious surface, urbanization, watershed planning and management