Masking is the process by which you remove pixels in an image based on the properties of that data, or the properties of a different data layer. The built-in cloud masking block (Mask Out Clouds) is an example of a mask -- it masks out (removes) all pixels that contain clouds. That way, any analysis or statistics you apply to the remaining pixels is only being done on the cloud-free pixels.
Other examples of masking might include:
- Masking out everything that is not forest cover so that you only analyse forest pixels.
- Removing everything but a lake feature so you can analyse the water properties only.
- Excluding any pixels that reach a certain threshold value.
Here we focus on how to mask pixels using the mask tool, but for completeness, we also include a short description of how to do it (and more advanced masking) using the calculator tool.
The mask tool can be found in the Toolbox under Input->Filter->Mask Out Part of Image.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Masking data within a workflow using Mask Out Part of Image block
- Masking data from another workflow using Mask Out Part of Image block
- Using the Calculator Block to Mask out Data
Masking data within a workflow using Mask Out Part of Image block
- Within a workflow, add the Mask block.
- It will automatically identify which data layers are available and offer them in the drop-down menu.
- If you choose an image data layer, it will automatically give you numeric options based on criteria (less then, greater than, etc). Enter the number you want as the threshold.
- If you choose a thematic layer (such as a land classification) you will get a drop-down menu that includes all the classes.
- The wording on the block is important: pixels that meet the criteria will be taken out of the data layer.
Masking data from another workflow using Mask Out Part of Image block
- This works in the same way as above, except that the other data layer has to be imported into the workflow you are working on.
- To do this, use a Save Data for Re-use block within the workflow that has the data you want to use for setting the masking criteria.
- Then add this saved data into your other workflow using Re-use This Saved Dataset.
- As an example, imagine you wanted to examine some Sentinel 1 data, but you only wanted to analyse those areas with forest cover. The following two workflows achieve that:
- The first workflow on the left draws in the Hansen tree cover map and saves it for re-use.
- The second workflow brings in Sentinel 1 data and the tree cover map.
- It then uses the Mask Out Part of Image block to mask out any Sentinel 1 data that is co-incident with data less than 25% tree cover.
Using the Calculator Block to Mask out Data
- Within the calculator block, you can use mask(image1, image2) to apply a mask to image1. If image 2 is an image layer with values from 0-1, then the mask will have varying transparency, with 1=fully opaque (solid colour), and 0 being fully transparent.
Warning! "mask" is case sensitive in the calculator block.
- You can create the masking image (image2) in one of two ways in the Calculator block:
- The easiest way is to enter a simple Boolean expression, such as DATA > 5 (where DATA is the chosen variable from an available data layer). The output layer will then be a layer that is equal to 1 where the expression is true (in this case, DATA is greater than 5) and zero everywhere else.
- This output layer can then be used as the mask layer, image2, in the expression above as it meets the criteria of being between 0 and 1.
- On its own, this does not have a mask, it merely has a set of zeros and ones. When used with mask(image1, image2) it will mask out all those areas that are not "true".
- Note that this expression can have other Boolean logic expressions such as OR and AND. For example, the expression DATA >= 2 AND DATA <=5 will return 1 for all pixels between 2 and 5, and zero everywhere else.
- You can use the more elaborate IF-THEN-ELSE expression using ? and : so that you will have: DATA >5 ? 1 : 0. The output layer from the Calculator Block is then the same as above.
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