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Detecting dryland degradation using Time Series Segmentation and Residual Trend analysis (TSS-RESTREND)

Burrell, Arden L., Evans, Jason P., Liu, Yi
Remote sensing of environment 2017 v.197 pp. 43-57
arid lands, ecosystems, food production, land use change, remote sensing, satellites, time series analysis, vegetation, Australia
Dryland degradation is an issue of international significance as dryland regions play a substantial role in global food production. Remotely sensed data provide the only long term, large scale record of changes within dryland ecosystems. The Residual Trend, or RESTREND, method is applied to satellite observations to detect dryland degradation. Whilst effective in most cases, it has been shown that the RESTREND method can fail to identify degraded pixels if the relationship between vegetation and precipitation has broken-down as a result of severe or rapid degradation. This paper presents an extended version of the RESTREND methodology that incorporates the Breaks For Additive Seasonal and Trend method to identify step changes in the time series that are related to significant structural changes in the ecosystem, e.g. land use changes. When applied to Australia, this new methodology, termed Time Series Segmentation and Residual Trend analysis (TSS-RESTREND), was able to detect degradation in 5.25% of pixels compared to only 2.0% for RESTREND alone. This modified methodology was then assessed in two regions with known histories of degradation where it was found to accurately capture both the timing and directionality of ecosystem change.