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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(3), 2283-2301; doi:10.3390/rs70302283

Remote Sensing of Shrubland Drying in the South-East Mediterranean, 1995–2010: Water-Use-Efficiency-Based Mapping of Biomass Change

1
Mapping and Geoinformation Engineering, Faculty of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
2
Agricultural Engineering, Faculty of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 32000, Israel
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Arnon Karnieli and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 29 July 2014 / Revised: 5 September 2014 / Accepted: 2 February 2015 / Published: 26 February 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Land Degradation in Drylands)
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Abstract

Recent climate studies of the South-Eastern Mediterranean indicate an increase in drought frequencies and decreasing water resources since the turn of the century. A four-phase methodology was developed for assessing above-ground biomass changes in shrublands caused by these recent trends. Firstly, we generalized the function SB = 0.008MAP1.54 describing the shrublands above-ground biomass (SB) dependence on mean annual precipitation (MAP) for areas of full shrub cover. Secondly, relationships between MAP and NDVI were formalized, allowing an estimation of precipitation levels from observed NDVI values (MAPNDVI). Thirdly, relative water-use efficiency (RWUE) was defined as the ratio between MAPNDVI and MAP. Finally, the function SBRWUE = 0.008MAP0.54 + RWUE was formalized, utilizing RWUE in estimating shrublands biomass. This methodology was implemented using Landsat TM images (1994 to 2011) for an area between the Judean Mountains and the deserts bordering them to the east and south. More than 50% of the study area revealed low biomass change (±0.2 kg/m2), compared with 30% of the woodlands of the Jerusalem Mountains, where biomass increased between 0.2 and 1.4 kg/m2 and with 50% of the semi-arid shrublands, where it decreased between 0.2 and 1.4 kg/m2. These results suggest that aridity lines in southern Israel are migrating northwards. View Full-Text
Keywords: desert-fringe ecosystems; climate change; shrubland biomass; remote sensing; water-use efficiency desert-fringe ecosystems; climate change; shrubland biomass; remote sensing; water-use efficiency
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Shoshany, M.; Karnibad, L. Remote Sensing of Shrubland Drying in the South-East Mediterranean, 1995–2010: Water-Use-Efficiency-Based Mapping of Biomass Change. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 2283-2301.

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