The increase of flood inundation occuring in different regions all over the world have enhanced the need for effective flood risk management. As floods frequency is increasing with a steady rate due to ever increasing human activities on physical floodplains there is a respectively increasing of financial destructive impact of floods. A flood can be determined as a mass of water that produces runoff on land that is not normally covered by water. However, earth observation techniques such as satellite remote sensing can contribute toward a more efficient flood risk mapping according to EU Directives of 2007/60.
This study strives to highlight the need of digital mapping of urban sprawl in a catchment area in Cyprus and the assessment of its contribution to flood risk. The Yialias river (Nicosia, Cyprus) was selected as case study where devastating flash floods events took place at 2003 and 2009. In order to search the diachronic land cover regime of the study area multi-temporal satellite imagery was processed and analyzed (e.g Landsat TMETM+, Aster). The land cover regime was examined in detail by using sophisticated post-processing classification algorithms such as Maximum Likelihood, Parallelepiped Algorithm, Minimum Distance, Spectral Angle and Isodata. Texture features were calculated using the Grey Level Co-Occurence Matrix. In addition three classification techniques were compared : multispectral classification, texture based classification and a combination of both. The classification products were compared and evaluated for their accuracy. Moreover, a knowledge-rule method is proposed based on spectral, texture and shape features in order to create efficient land use and land cover maps of the study area. Morphometric parameters such as stream frequency, drainage density and elongation ratio were calculated in order to extract the basic watershed characteristics. In terms of the impacts of land use/cover on flooding, GIS and Fragstats tool were used to detect identifying trends, both visually and statistically, resulting from land use changes in a flood prone area such as Yialias by the use of spatial metrics. The results indicated that there is a considerable increase of urban areas cover during the period of the last 30 years. All these denoted that one of the main driving force of the increasing flood risk in catchment areas in Cyprus is generally associated to human activities.