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Mapping of land degradation from space: a comparative study of Landsat ETM+ and ASTER data

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The purpose of this study is to compare the role of spectral and spatial resolutions in mapping land degradation from space-borne imagery using Landsat ETM+ and ASTER data as examples. Land degradation in the form of salinization and waterlogging in Tongyu County, western Jilin Province of northeast China was mapped from an ETM+ image of 22 June 2002 and an ASTER image recorded on 24 June 2001 using supervised classification, together with several other land covers. It was found that the mapping accuracy was achieved at 56.8% and higher for moderately degraded (e.g. salinized) farmland, and over 80% for severely degraded land (e.g. barren) from both ASTER and ETM+ data. The spatial resolution of the ASTER data exerts only a negligible effect on the mapping accuracy. The 30 m ETM+ outperforms the ASTER image of both 15 m and 30 m resolution in consistently generating a higher overall accuracy as well as a higher user's accuracy for barren land. The inferiority of ASTER data is attributed to the highly repetitive spectral content of its six shortwave infrared bands. It is concluded that the spectral resolution of an image is not as important as the information content of individual bands in accurately mapping land covers automatically.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand 2: Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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