Morphological Operations

Earth Engine implements morphological operations as focal operations, specifically focal_max(), focal_min(), focal_median(), and focal_mode() instance methods in the Image class. (These are shortcuts for the more general reduceNeighborhood(), which can input the pixels in a kernel to any reducer with a numeric output. See this page for more information on reducing neighborhoods). The morphological operators are useful for performing operations such as erosion, dilation, opening and closing. For example, to perform an opening operation, use focal_min() followed by focal_max():

// Load a Landsat 8 image, select the NIR band, threshold, display.
var image = ee.Image('LANDSAT/LC8_L1T_TOA/LC80440342014077LGN00')
Map.setCenter(-122.1899, 37.5010, 13);
Map.addLayer(image, {}, 'NIR threshold');

// Define a kernel.
var kernel ={radius: 1});

// Perform an erosion followed by a dilation, display.
var opened = image
             .focal_min({kernel: kernel, iterations: 2})
             .focal_max({kernel: kernel, iterations: 2});
Map.addLayer(opened, {}, 'opened');

Note that in the previous example, a kernel argument is provided to the morphological operator. The pixels covered by non-zero elements of the kernel are used in the computation. The iterations argument indicates how many times to apply the operator.


Google Earth Engine API