Land-cover changes in sub-saharan Africa (1982-1991) : Application of a change index based on remotely sensed surface temperature and vegetation indices at a continental scale

Lambin, Eric F
Ehrlich, Daniele
Remote Sensing of Environment
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There is an increasing need for data on land-cover changes at broad spatial .scales. In this study, a remote sensing-based technique for land-cover-change analysis was applied to the African continent for the last decade. Ten years of daily, continental-.scale satellite remote sensing data (front the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's advanced very-high resolution radiometer) were analyzed. Deviations in. the seasonal trajectory of the land surface--characterized by its brightness temperature and a vegetation index--were interpreted in terms of land-cover change on a yearly basis, from 1982 to 1991. Land-cover-change magnitudes were measured and mapped for every year. The major categories of seasonal patterns of changes were identified. Multiyear patterns of change also were categorized, and all areas affected by a continuous decrease and gain in vegetation cover over the decade were snapped. Results were related to published high-resolution remote sensing-based studies, rainfall data, and other evidence of land-cover changes. This study's results demonstrate that inte-rannual land-cover changes in Africa mostly involve erratic variations in land-corer conditions due to interannual climatic variability and temporary nwdifncations in seasonality. Continuous, unidirectional change processes (decrease or gain in vegetation cover) affected less than 4% of sub-Saharan Africa during the study period. Althongh such linear changes are just a fraction of the total land-cover changes detected, their effect on ecosystems and sustainability of livelihood might be significant. In the semiarid regions, temporary modification of the biophysical attributes of the surface driven by variations in rainfall is the dominant process. Future work will focus on finer-scale interpretation and validations of patterns of changes.
Name of Journal: 
Remote Sensing of Environment
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Document Type: 
Journal Issue/Article
Grassland Society of Southern Africa

The Grassland Society of Southern Africa (GSSA) is involved and concerned with the science and practice of range and pasture management. This broad field involves primarily the use and conservation of natural resources. It encompasses applied fields such as livestock production, wildlife management, nature conservation, water catchment management and range and mine-dump rehabilitation. The disciplines include, amongst others, ecology, botany zoology, range and pasture science, animal science, soil science and genetics. This collection includes journal articles from the African Journal of Range and Forage Science as well as related articles and reports from throughout the Southern African region.