Spatial Monitoring of Desertification Extent in Western Iraq using Landsat Images and GIS

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Journal Article
Land Degradation and Development, 2017, 28 (8), pp. 2418 - 2431
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Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Desertification refers to land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas caused by various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. In recent decades, sandstorms have increased significantly in Western Iraq, which primarily increased desert lands. Proper management is required to control and to monitor the phenomena, as well as to calculate the desertified areas caused by desertification. The study area covered 50,861.854 km2 in Western Iraq. Landsat-5 TM, Landsat-7 ETM+, and Landsat-8 OLI data for 1990, 2002, and 2014 were used. Maximum likelihood algorithm was used to classify the images. Change detection results were discussed in two terms: short-term (1990–2002) and (2002–2014) and long-term (1990–2014) analysis. Change detection analysis from 1990 to 2014 showed that desert area increased to 2286.7308 km2, becoming a new source of dust storms. Hazard occurrence probability was studied on September and October 2014. The desertification amount decreased from 1990 to 2002 and increased significantly from 2002 to 2014. Sandstorms have recently been considered a hazardous phenomenon affecting the human population, the vegetation, and the ecosystem in Iraq. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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