A Lightweight Deep Learning-Based Cloud Detection Method for Sentinel-2A Imagery Fusing Multiscale Spectral and Spatial Features

Jun Li, Zhaocong Wu, Zhongwen Hu, Canliang Jian, Shaojie Luo, Lichao Mou, Xiao Xiang Zhu, Matthieu Molinier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Clouds are a very important factor in the availability of optical remote sensing images. Recently, deep learning (DL)-based cloud detection methods have surpassed classical methods based on rules and physical models of clouds. However, most of these deep models are very large, which limits their applicability and explainability, while other models do not make use of the full spectral information in multispectral images, such as Sentinel-2. In this article, we propose a lightweight network for cloud detection, fusing multiscale spectral and spatial features (CD-FM3SFs) and tailored for processing all spectral bands in Sentinel-2A images. The proposed method consists of an encoder and a decoder. In the encoder, three input branches are designed to handle spectral bands at their native resolution and extract multiscale spectral features. Three novel components are designed: a mixed depthwise separable convolution (MDSC) and a shared and dilated residual block (SDRB) to extract multiscale spatial features, and a concatenation and sum (CS) operation to fuse multiscale spectral and spatial features with little calculation and no additional parameters. The decoder of CD-FM3SF outputs three cloud masks at the same resolution as input bands to enhance the supervision information of small, middle, and large clouds. To validate the performance of the proposed method, we manually labeled 36 Sentinel-2A scenes evenly distributed over mainland China. The experiment results demonstrate that CD-FM3SF outperforms traditional cloud detection methods and state-of-the-art DL-based methods in both accuracy and speed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Early online date6 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Artificial satellites
  • Cloud computing
  • Cloud detection
  • Clouds
  • deep learning (DL)
  • Earth
  • Feature extraction
  • lightweight model
  • multiscale spectral and spatial features
  • Remote sensing
  • Sentinel-2 imagery.
  • Spatial resolution


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