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Accuracy and applicability of linear spectral unmixing in delineating potential erosion areas in tropical watersheds

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This study was undertaken to assess the accuracy of linear spectral unmixing (LSU) in estimating fractional abundance of land cover components and to examine its applicability in delineating potential erosion areas in tropical watershed. Five image end-members (mixed vegetation, grass, Acacia auriculiformis, bare soil and water/shadow) were selected and used in different combinations in unmixing Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) into fraction images. The accuracy assessment was conducted by comparing the land cover abundance estimates derived from unmixing with the land cover abundance measured from field-validated classified QuickBird imagery. Good agreement was obtained using a four-end-member combination in which shadow was eliminated. The results suggest that LSU could be implemented for soil erosion detection. In general, soil erosion increases when vegetation cover decreases; hence, we used the fraction images to derive a bare soil/vegetation cover ratio and used that as a simple indicator to map high potential erosion areas. Comparison with field assessment of actual erosion levels in the study area showed that the technique is effective in identifying areas on which erosion control efforts should be concentrated.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-1 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Japan

Publication date: January 1, 2008

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