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Machine learning classification and regresssion modelling for spatial raster data.

Note - this package is still under development and breaking changes are possible.


Pyspatialml is a Python module for applying scikit-learn machine learning models to 'stacks' of raster datasets. Pyspatialml includes functions and classes for working with multiple raster datasets and performing a typical machine learning workflow consisting of extracting training data and applying the predict or predict_proba methods of scikit-learn estimators to a stack of raster datasets. Pyspatialml is built upon the rasterio Python module for all of the heavy lifting, and is also designed for working with vector data using the geopandas module.

For more information read the documents page at:


A typical supervised machine-learning workflow involving raster datasets consists of several steps:

  1. Using vector features or labelled pixels to extract training data from a stack of raster-based predictors (e.g. spectral bands, terrain derivatives, or climate grids). The training data represent locations when some property/state/concentration is already established, and might comprise point locations of arsenic concentrations, or labelled pixels with integer-encoded values that correspond to known landcover types.
  2. Developing a machine learning classification or regression model on the training data. Pyspatialml is designed to use scikit-learn compatible api's for this purpose.
  3. Applying the fitted machine learning model to make predictions on all of the pixels in the stack of raster data.

Pyspatialml is designed to make it easy to develop spatial prediction models on stacks of 2D raster datasets that are held on disk. Unlike using python's numpy module directly where raster datasets need to be held in memory, the majority of functions within pyspatialml work with raster datasets that are stored on disk and allow processing operations to be performed on datasets that are too large to be loaded into memory.


Raster and RasterLayer objects

The main class that facilitates working with multiple raster datasets is the Raster class, which is inspired by the famous raster package in the R statistical programming language. The Raster object takes a list of file paths to GDAL-supported raster datasets and 'stacks' them into a single Raster object. The underlying file-based raster datasets are not physically-stacked, but rather the Raster object internally represents each band within the datasets as a RasterLayer. This means that metadata regarding what each raster dataset represents (e.g. the dataset's name) can be retained, and additional raster datasets can be added or removed from the stack without physical on disk changes.

Note these raster datasets need to be spatially aligned in terms of their extent, resolution and coordinate reference system. If they are not aligned, then for convenience the pyspatialml.preprocessing.align_rasters function can be used to resample a list of raster datasets.


There are three methods of creating a new Raster object:

  1. Raster(file_path=[raster1.tif, raster2.tif, raster3.tif]) creates a Raster object from existing file-based GDAL-supported datasets.

  2. Raster(arr=new_numpy_array, crs=crs, transform=transform) creates a Raster object from a 3D numpy array (band, row, column). The crs and transform arguments are optional but are required to provide coordinate reference system information to the Raster object. The crs argument has to be represented by object, and the transform parameter requires a affine.Affine object.

  3. Raster(layers=[RasterLayer1, RasterLayer2, RasterLayer3]) creates a Raster object from a single or list of RasterLayer objects. RasterLayers are a thin wrapper around rasterio.Band objects with additional methods. This is mostly used internally. A RasterLayer itself is initiated directly from a rasterio.Band object.

Generally, pyspatialml intends users to work with the Raster object. However, access to individual RasterLayer objects, or the underlying datasets can be useful if pyspatialml is being used in conjunction with other functions and methods in the Rasterio package.


The package is currently not available on PyPI, but can be installed from GitHub directly via:

pip install git+


This is an example using the imagery data that is bundled with the package. This data is derived from the GRASS GIS North Carolina dataset and comprises Landsat 7 VNIR and SWIR bands along with some land cover training data that were derived from a land cover classification from an earlier date.

First, import the extract and predict functions:

from pyspatialml import Raster
from copy import deepcopy
import os
import tempfile
import geopandas
import rasterio.plot
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt


We are going to use a set of Landsat 7 bands contained within the nc_dataset:

import as nc
predictors = [nc.band1, nc.band2, nc.band3, nc.band4, nc.band5, nc.band7]

These raster datasets are aligned in terms of their extent and coordinate reference systems. We can 'stack' these into a Raster class so that we can perform machine learning related operations on the set of rasters:

stack = Raster(predictors)

Upon 'stacking', syntactically-correct names for each RasterLayer are automatically generated from the file_paths.


Indexing of Raster objects is provided by several methods:

RasterLayer indexing which returns a RasterLayer:

stack.iloc[0]  # index
stack.iloc[0:3]  # slice
stack['lsat7_2000_10']  # key
stack[('lsat7_2000_10', 'lsat7_2000_20')]  # list or tuple of keys
stack.lsat7_2000_10  # attribute

Iterate through RasterLayers:

for name, layer in stack:

Subset a Raster object:

subset_raster = stack[['lsat7_2000_10', 'lsat7_2000_70']]

Replace a RasterLayer with another:

stack.iloc[0] = Raster(nc.band7).iloc[0]

Append layers from another Raster to the stack. Note that this occurs in-place. Duplicate names are automatically given a suffix:


Rename RasterLayers using a dict of old_name : new_name pairs:

stack.rename({'lsat7_2000_30': 'new_name'})

Drop a RasterLayer:


Save a Raster:

tmp_tif = tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile().name + '.tif'
newstack = stack.write(file_path=tmp_tif, nodata=-9999)
newstack = None


Basic plotting has been added to as a method to RasterLayer and Raster options. More controls on plotting will be added in the future. Currently you can set a matplotlib cmap for each RasterLayer using the RasterLayer.cmap attribute.

Plot a single RasterLayer:

stack.lsat7_2000_10.cmap = 'plasma'

Plot all RasterLayers in a Raster object:


Integration with Pandas

Data from a Raster object can converted into a Pandas dataframe, with each pixel representing by a row, and columns reflecting the x, y coordinates and the values of each RasterLayer in the Raster object:

df = stack.to_pandas(max_pixels=50000, resampling='nearest')

The original raster is up-sampled based on max_pixels and the resampling method, which uses all of resampling methods available in the underlying rasterio library for decimated reads. The Raster.to_pandas method can be useful for plotting datasets, or combining with a library such as plotnine to create ggplot2-style plots of stacks of RasterLayers:

from plotnine import *
(ggplot(df.melt(id_vars=['x', 'y']), aes(x='x', y='y', fill='value')) +
geom_tile() + facet_wrap('variable'))

A Machine Learning Workflow

Extract Training Data

Load some training data in the form of polygons, points and labelled pixels in geopandas GeoDataFrame objects. We will also generate some line geometries by converting the polygon boundaries into linestrings. All of these geometry types can be used to spatially query pixel values in a Raster object, however each GeoDataFrame must contain only one type of geometry (i.e. either shapely points, polygons or linestrings).

training_py = geopandas.read_file(nc.polygons)
training_pt = geopandas.read_file(nc.points)
training_px =
training_lines = deepcopy(training_py)
training_lines['geometry'] = training_lines.geometry.boundary

Show training data points and a single raster band using numpy and matplotlib:

stack = Raster(predictors)
plt.scatter(x=training_pt.bounds.iloc[:, 0],
            y=training_pt.bounds.iloc[:, 1],
            s=2, color='black')

Pixel values in the Raster object can be spatially queried using the extract_vector and extract_raster methods. In addition, the extract_xy method can be used to query pixel values using a 2d array of x and y coordinates.

The extract_vector method accepts a Geopandas GeoDataFrame as the gdf argument. For GeoDataFrames containing shapely point geometries, the closest pixel to each point is sampled. For shapely polygon geometries, all pixels whose centres are inside the polygon are sampled. For shapely linestring geometries, every pixel touched by the line is sampled. For all geometry types, pixel values are queries for each geometry separately. This means that overlapping polygons or points that fall within the same pixel with cause the same pixel to be sampled multiple times.

By default, the extract functions return a Geopandas GeoDataFrame of point geometries and the DataFrame containing the extracted pixels, with the column names set by the names of the raster datasets in the Raster object. The user can also use the return_array=True argument, which instead of returning a DataFrame will return three masked numpy arrays (id, X, coordinates) containing geodataframe indices, the extracted pixel values, and the spatial coordinates of the sampled pixels. These arrays are masked arrays with nodata values in the RasterStack datasets being masked.

The extract_raster method can also be used to spatially query pixel values from a Raster object using another raster containing labelled pixels. This raster has to be spatially aligned with the Raster object. This method also returns the values of the labelled pixels are returned along with the queried pixel values.

# Create a training dataset by extracting the raster values at the training point locations:
df_points = stack.extract_vector(response=training_pt, columns='id')
df_polygons = stack.extract_vector(response=training_py, columns='id')
df_lines = stack.extract_vector(response=training_lines, columns='id')
df_raster = stack.extract_raster(response=training_px, value_name='id')

# join the extracted pixel data back with the training data
df_points = df_points.merge(training_pt.loc[:, ("id)], left_index=True, right_index=True)

Model Training

Next we can train a logistic regression classifier:

# Next we can train a logistic regression classifier:
from sklearn.linear_model import LogisticRegressionCV
from sklearn.preprocessing import StandardScaler
from sklearn.pipeline import Pipeline
from sklearn.model_selection import cross_validate

# define the classifier with standardization of the input features in a pipeline
lr = Pipeline(
    [('scaling', StandardScaler()),
     ('classifier', LogisticRegressionCV(n_jobs=-1))])

# fit the classifier
X = df_polygons.drop(columns=['id', 'geometry'])
y =, y)

After defining a classifier, a typical step consists of performing a cross-validation to evaluate the performance of the model. Scikit-learn provides the cross_validate function for this purpose. In comparison to non-spatial data, spatial data can be spatially correlated, which potentially can mean that geographically proximal samples may not represent independent samples if they are within the autocorrelation range of some of the predictors. This will lead to overly optimistic performance measures if samples in the training dataset / cross-validation partition are strongly spatially correlated with samples in the test dataset / cross-validation partition.

In this case, performing cross-validation using groups is useful, because these groups can represent spatial clusters of training samples, and samples from the same group will never occur in both the training and test partitions of a cross-validation. An example of creating random spatial clusters from point coordinates is provided here:

# spatial cross-validation
from sklearn.cluster import KMeans

# create 10 spatial clusters based on clustering of the training data point x,y coordinates
clusters = KMeans(n_clusters=34, n_jobs=-1)[:, 0:2])

# cross validate
scores = cross_validate(
  lr, X, y, groups=clusters.labels_,
  cv=3,  n_jobs=1)

Raster Prediction

Prediction on the Raster object is performed using the predict method. The estimator is the only required argument. If the file_path argument is not specified then the result is automatically written to a temporary file. The predict method returns an object which is open.

Other arguments consist of predict_type can be either 'raw' to output a classification or regression result, or 'prob' to output class probabilities as a multi-band raster (a band for each class probability). In the latter case, indexes can also be supplied if you only want to output the probabilities for a particular class, or list of classes, by supplying the indices of those classes:

# prediction
result = stack.predict(estimator=lr, dtype='int16', nodata=0)
result_probs = stack.predict_proba(estimator=lr)

# plot classification result

# plot class probabilities

Sampling Tools

For many spatial models, it is common to take a random sample of the predictors to represent a single class (i.e. an environmental background or pseudo-absences in a binary classification model). The sample function is supplied in the sampling module for this purpose:

# extract training data using a random sample
df_rand = stack.sample(size=1000, random_state=1)

The sample function also enables stratified random sampling based on passing a categorical raster dataset to the strata argument. The categorical raster should spatially overlap with the dataset to be sampled, but it does not need to be of the same grid resolution. This raster should be passed as a opened rasterio dataset:

with as strata:
    df_strata = stack.sample(size=5, strata=strata, random_state=1)
    df_strata = df_strata.dropna()

    fig, ax = plt.subplots()
    ax.imshow(, masked=True), extent=rasterio.plot.plotting_extent(strata), cmap='tab10')
    df_strata.plot(ax=ax, markersize=20, color='white')

Vector Data Tools

In some cases, we don't need all of the training data, but rather would spatially thin a point dataset. The filter_points function performs point-thinning based on a minimum distance buffer on a geopandas dataframe containing point geometries:

from pyspatialml.vector import filter_points

thinned_points = filter_points(xy=training_pt, min_dist=500, remove='first')

We can also generate random points within polygons using the get_random_point_in_polygon function. This requires a shapely POLYGON geometry as an input, and returns a shapely POINT object:

from pyspatialml.vector import get_random_point_in_polygon

# generate 5 random points in a single polygon
random_points = [get_random_point_in_polygon(training_py.geometry[0]) for i in range(5)]

# convert to a GeoDataFrame
random_points = geopandas.GeoDataFrame(