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Environmental change monitoring in the arid and semi-arid regions: a case study Al-Basrah Province, Iraq

Hadeel, A. S., Jabbar, Mushtak T., Chen, Xiaoling
Environmental monitoring and assessment 2010 v.167 no.1-4 pp. 371-385
Landsat, algorithms, case studies, computer software, environmental monitoring, geographic information systems, global change, land cover, land use, normalized difference vegetation index, remote sensing, sand, semiarid zones, surface water, urban areas, vegetation cover, Iraq
In recent years, land use/cover dynamic change has become a key subject urgently to be dealt with in the study of global environmental change. This research utilizes the integrated remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) in the southern part of Iraq (Basrah Province was taken as a case) to monitor, map, and quantify the environmental change using a 1:250,000 mapping scale. Remote sensing and GIS software were used to classify Landsat TM in 1990 and Landsat ETM+ in 2003 imagery into five land use and land cover (LULC) classes: vegetation land, sand land, urban area, unused land, and water bodies. Supervised classification and normalized difference buildup index, normalized difference vegetation index, normalized difference bare land index, the normalized differential water index, crust index (CI) algorithms, and change detection techniques were adopted in this research and used, respectively, to retrieve its class boundary. An accuracy assessment was performed on the 2003 LULC map to determine the reliability of the map. Finally, GIS software was used to quantify and illustrate the various LULC conversions that took place over the 13-year span of time. The results showed that the urban area, sand lands, and bare lands had increased by the rate of 1.2%, 0.8%, and 0.4% per year, with area expansion from 3,299.1, 4,119.1 km², and 3,201.9 km² in 1990 to 3,794.9, 4,557.7, and 3,351.7 km² in 2003, respectively. While the vegetation cover and water body classes were about 43.5% in 1990, the percentage decreased to about 39.6% in 2003. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of the remote sensing and GIS technologies in detecting, assessing, mapping, and monitoring the environmental changes.