Monitoring vegetation dynamics in Zhongwei, an arid city of Northwest China
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This case study used Zhongwei City in northwest China to quantify the urbanization and revegetation processes (1990-2011) through a unified sub-pixel measure of vegetation cover. Research strategies included: (1) Conduct sub-pixel vegetation mapping (1990, 1996, 2004, and 2011) with Random Forest (RF) algorithm by integrating high (OrbView-3) and medium spatial resolution (Landsat TM) data; (2) Examine simple Dark Object Subtraction (DOS) atmospheric correction method to support temporal generalization of sub-pixel mapping algorithm; (3) And characterize patterns of vegetation cover dynamics based on change detection analysis. We found the RF algorithm, combined with simple DOS, showed good generalization capability for sub-pixel vegetation mapping. Predicted sub-pixel vegetation proportions were consistent for "pseudo-invariant" pixels. Vegetation change analysis suggested persistent urban development within the city boundary, accompanied by a continuous expansion of revegetated area at the city fringe. Urban development occurred at both the suburban and urban core areas, and was mainly shaped by transportation networks. A transition in revegetation practices was documented: the large-scale governmental revegetation programs were replaced by the commercial afforestation conducted by industries. This study showed a slight increase in vegetation cover over the time period, balanced by losses to urban expansion, and a likely severe degradation of vegetation cover due to conversion of arable land to desert vegetation. The loss of arable land and the growth of artificial desert vegetation have yielded a dynamic equilibrium in terms of overall vegetation cover during 1990 to 2011, but in the long run vegetation quality is certainly reduced.
- Masters Theses