PREP Publications

Impervious Surface Mapping in Coastal New Hampshire (2005)

David Justice, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus
Fay Rubin, University of New Hampshire - Main Campus


Estimates of impervious surface acreage in 2005 were generated and compared to prior estimates for 1990 and 2000 for a 48-town region in coastal New Hampshire, including the 42 towns within Zones A and B of the New Hampshire Estuaries Project (NHEP) area. The estimates were based on applying both traditional and subpixel image classification techniques to 30-meter Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite data, acquired 3 October 2005. The classifications indicated that impervious surface acreage increased from 4.3% (31,233 acres) in 1990, to 6.3% (45,445 acres) in 2000, to 7.4% (53,408 acres) in 2005. At the subwatershed level, the Portsmouth Harbor subwatershed recorded the highest percentage of impervious surface acreage in 1990 with 19.8% coverage (2,310 acres) and in 2000 with 25.5% coverage (2,975 acres), and this finding continued in 2005 with 28.9% (3,364 acres) of the watershed mapped as impervious. An accuracy assessment was applied to the regional data, and indicated an accuracy of 98.3% for the 2005 data, which compared favorably with the assessment of the 1990 effort (98.6% correct) as well as the 2000 data (93.1% correct). These figures reflect the overall presence/absence of impervious surfaces within the randomly selected pixels. The accuracy was further evaluated against April, 2003 Emerge 1-ft. resolution aerial photography to estimate the validity of the predicted range of imperviousness for a second set of randomly selected pixels. This assessment proved disappointing, as only 7% of the pixels sampled predicted the correct impervious percentage range. The data set representing impervious surface acreage in 2005 has been archived in the GRANIT GIS clearinghouse, thereby making it available to the coastal resource community as well as the general public. The data are appropriate for watershed and subwatershed level characterizations. Users are discouraged from accessing these data to support larger scale mapping and applications.