This paper examines how radar and optical imagery combined can be employed for the study of land degradation. A case study was conducted in the Randi Forest, Cyprus, a known overgrazed area for the past 70 years. Satellite optical imagery was used for the calculation of the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for the time period between December 2015 to July 2016 and C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery was used to derive correlative changes in backscatter intensity (σ0). The results are indicative of the overgrazing in the area with the temporal and spatial variations of grazing defined. Both the NDVI and the σ0 values demonstrate sudden shifts in vegetation cover following the start of the grazing period with the greatest shifts being evident in close proximity to the location of farms. NDVI and backscatter coefficient correlation was measured at 0.7 and 0.8 for the months of February and April respectively. Shifts in NDVI value by 0.1 correspond to a shift in σ0 by 4 db. VH cross-polarization showed greater sensitivity to changes in vegetation than VV. The paper also examines the capability of C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar to measure changes in plant structure and vegetation fraction as the result of grazing. Depending on grazing intensity, backscatter coefficient varies according to vegetation density.
C. Papoutsa, D. Kouhartsiouk, K. Themistocleous, M. Christoforou, and D. G. Hadjimitsis, "Monitoring of land degradation from overgrazing using space-borne radar and optical imagery: a case study in Randi Forest, Cyprus," Proc. SPIE 10005, Earth Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing/GIS Applications VII, 1000516 (Presented at SPIE Remote Sensing: September 29, 2016; Published: 18 October 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2242049.
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