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Poyang Lake is a seasonal lake, exchanging water with the lower branch of the Yangtze River. During the spring and summer flooding season it inundates a large area while in the winter it shrinks considerably, creating a large tract of marshland for wild migratory birds. A better knowledge of the water coverage duration and the beginning and ending dates for the vast range of marshlands surrounding the lake is important for the measurement, modelling and management of marshland ecosystems. In addition, the abundance of a special type of snail (Oncomelania hupensis), the intermediate host of parasite schistosome (Schistosoma japonicum) in this region, is also heavily dependent on the water coverage information. However, there is no accurate digital elevation model (DEM) for the lake bottom and the inundated marshland, nor is there sufficient water level information over this area. In this study, we assess the feasibility of the use of multitemporal Landsat images for mapping the spatial-temporal change of Poyang Lake water body and the temporal process of water inundation of marshlands. Eight cloud-free Landsat Thematic Mapper images taken during a period of one year were used in this study. We used the normalized difference water index (NDWI) and the modified normalized difference water index (MNDWI) methods to map water bodies. We then examined the annual spatial-temporal change of the Poyang Lake water body. Finally we attempted to obtain the duration of water inundation of marshlands based on the temporal sequence of water extent determined from the Landsat images. The results showed that although the images can be used to capture the snapshots of water coverage in this area, they are insufficient to provide accurate estimation of the spatial-temporal process of water inundation over the marshlands through linear interpolation.