Semantic Segmentation of Mesoscale Eddies in the Arabian Sea: A Deep Learning Approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Detecting mesoscale ocean eddies provides a better understanding of the oceanic processes that govern the transport of salt, heat, and carbon. Established eddy detection techniques rely on physical or geometric criteria, and they notoriously fail to predict eddies that are neither circular nor elliptical in shape. Recently, deep learning techniques have been applied for semantic segmentation of mesoscale eddies, relying on the outputs of traditional eddy detection algorithms to supervise the training of the neural network. However, this approach limits the network’s predictions because the available annotations are either circular or elliptical. Moreover, current approaches depend on the sea-surface height, temperature, or currents as inputs to the network, and these data may not provide all the information necessary to accurately segment eddies. In the present work, we have trained a neural network for the semantic segmentation of eddies using human-based—and expert-validated—annotations of eddies in the Arabian Sea. Training with human-annotated datasets enables the network predictions to include more complex geometries, which occur commonly in the real ocean. We then examine the impact of different combinations of input surface variables on the segmentation performance of the network. The results indicate that providing additional surface variables as inputs to the network improves the accuracy of the predictions by approximately 5%. We have further fine-tuned another pre-trained neural network to segment eddies and achieved a reduced overall training time and higher accuracy compared to the results from a network trained from scratch.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1525
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 10 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-03-16
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): REP/1/3268-01-01
Acknowledgements: The research reported in this publication was supported by the Virtual Red Sea Initiative Award #REP/1/3268-01-01. We thank Issam Lakkis for his helpful discussions. We also thank Jad Bhamdouni, Louis Youssef, Nour Qaraqira, and Omar AlLahham for their help with acquiring the annotation.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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