Oil spills are a global phenomenon with impacts that cut across socio-economic, health, and environmental dimensions of the coastal ecosystem. However, comprehensive assessment of oil spill impacts and selection of appropriate remediation approaches have been restricted due to reliance on laboratory experiments which
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Oil spills are a global phenomenon with impacts that cut across socio-economic, health, and environmental dimensions of the coastal ecosystem. However, comprehensive assessment of oil spill impacts and selection of appropriate remediation approaches have been restricted due to reliance on laboratory experiments which offer limited area coverage and classification accuracy. Thus, this study utilizes multispectral Landsat 8-OLI remote sensing imagery and machine learning models to assess the impacts of oil spills on coastal vegetation and wetland and monitor the recovery pattern of polluted vegetation and wetland in a coastal city. The spatial extent of polluted areas was also precisely quantified for effective management of the coastal ecosystem. Using Johor, a coastal city in Malaysia as a case study, a total of 49 oil spill (ground truth) locations, 54 non-oil-spill locations and Landsat 8-OLI data were utilized for the study. The ground truth points were divided into 70% training and 30% validation parts for the classification of polluted vegetation and wetland. Sixteen different indices that have been used to monitor vegetation and wetland stress in literature were adopted for impact and recovery analysis. To eliminate similarities in spectral appearance of oil-spill-affected vegetation, wetland and other elements like burnt and dead vegetation, Support Vector Machine (SVM) and Random Forest (RF) machine learning models were used for the classification of polluted and nonpolluted vegetation and wetlands. Model optimization was performed using a random search method to improve the models’ performance, and accuracy assessments confirmed the effectiveness of the two machine learning models to identify, classify and quantify the area extent of oil pollution on coastal vegetation and wetland. Considering the harmonic mean (F1
overall accuracy (OA), User’s accuracy (UA), and producers’ accuracy (PA), both models have high accuracies. However, the RF outperformed the SVM with F1
, OA, PA and UA values of 95.32%, 96.80%, 98.82% and 95.11%, respectively, while the SVM recorded accuracy values of F1
OA (92.87%), PA (95.18%) and UA (93.81%), respectively, highlighting 1205.98 hectares of polluted vegetation and 1205.98 hectares of polluted wetland. Analysis of the vegetation indices revealed that spilled oil had a significant impact on the vegetation and wetland, although steady recovery was observed between 2015-2018. This study concludes that Chlorophyll Vegetation Index, Modified Difference Water Index, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and Green Chlorophyll Index vegetation indices are more sensitive for impact and recovery assessment of both vegetation and wetland, in addition to Modified Normalized Difference Vegetation Index for wetlands. Thus, remote sensing and Machine Learning models are essential tools capable of providing accurate information for coastal oil spill impact assessment and recovery analysis for appropriate remediation initiatives.