Land Cover Conversion and Degradation Analyses Through Coupled Soil-Plant Biophysical Parameters Derived From Hyperspectral EO-1 Hyperion

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Journal Article
IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 2003, 41 (6), pp. 1268 - 1276
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Land degradation in semiarid areas results from various factors, including climate variations and human activity, and can lead to desertification. The process of degradation results in simultaneous and complex variations of many interrelated soil and vegetation biophysical parameters, rendering it difficult to develop simple and robust remote sensing mapping and monitoring approaches. In this study, we tested the use of Earth Observing 1 (EO-1) Hyperion hyperspectral data to analyze land degradation patterns within the protected Nacunan Biosphere Reserve and surrounding areas in the Monte Desert region of Argentina. The floristically diverse vegetation communities included mesquite forest (algarrobal), creosotebush (jarillal), sand-dune (medanal), and severely degraded (peladal) sites. Various optical measures of land degradation were employed, including vegetation indexes, spectral derivatives, albedo, and spectral mixture analysis. Spectral mixture analysis provided the best characterization of the unstable and spatially variable landscape encountered at the Nacunan Biosphere Reserve. Spectral unmixing provided simultaneous measures of green vegetation, nonphotosynthetic vegetation, and soil, all of which were deemed essential in characterizing land degradation. In conjunction with multitemporal data from the more commonly employed broadband sensors, hyperspectral data can provide a powerful methodology toward understanding environmental degradation.
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