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Remote Sens. 2016, 8(3), 186; doi:10.3390/rs8030186

A River Basin over the Course of Time: Multi-Temporal Analyses of Land Surface Dynamics in the Yellow River Basin (China) Based on Medium Resolution Remote Sensing Data

1
Company for Remote Sensing and Environmental Research (SLU), Kohlsteiner Strasse 5, 81243 Munich, Germany
2
State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), 11A Da Tun Road, An Wai, Beijing 100101, China
3
Jiangsu Center for Collaborative Innovation in Geographic Information Resource Development and Application, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210023, China
4
German Aerospace Center (DLR), German Remote Sensing Data Center (DFD), Münchner Strasse 20, 82234 Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Magaly Koch and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 8 December 2015 / Revised: 25 January 2016 / Accepted: 29 January 2016 / Published: 26 February 2016
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Abstract

The Yellow River Basin is one of China’s most densely-populated, fastest growing and most dynamic regions, with abundant natural resources and intense agricultural production. Major land policies have recently resulted in remarkable landscape modifications throughout the basin. The availability of precise regional land cover change information is crucial to better understand the prevailing dynamics and underlying factors influencing the current processes in such a complex system and can additionally serve as a valuable component for modeling and decision making. Such comprehensive and detailed information is lacking for the Yellow River Basin so far. In this study, we derived land cover characteristics and dynamics from the complete last decade based on optical high-temporal MODIS Normalized Differenced Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series for the whole Yellow River Basin. After filtering and smoothing for noise reduction with the use of the adaptive Savitzky–Golay filter, the processed time series was used to derive a large variety of phenological and annual metrics. The final classifications for the basin (2003 and 2013) were based on a random forest classifier, trained by reference samples from very high-resolution imagery. The accuracy assessment for all 18 thematic classes, which was based on a 30% reference data split, yielded an overall accuracy of 87% and 84% for 2003 and 2013, respectively. Major land cover and land use changes during the last decade have occurred on the Loess Plateau, where land and conservation reforms triggered large-scale recovery of grassland and shrubland habitat that had been previously covered by agriculture or sparse vegetation. Agricultural encroachment and urban area expansion are other processes influencing the dynamics in the basin. The necessity for regionally-adapted land cover maps becomes obvious when our land cover products are compared to existing global products, where thematic accuracy remains low, particularly in a heterogeneous landscape, such as the Yellow River Basin. The basin-wide novel land cover and land use products of the Yellow River Basin hold a large potential for climate, hydrology and biodiversity modelers, as well as river basin and regional governmental authorities and will be shared upon request. View Full-Text
Keywords: land cover change; phenology; MODIS; random forest; time series analysis; Yellow River Basin land cover change; phenology; MODIS; random forest; time series analysis; Yellow River Basin
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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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MDPI and ACS Style

Wohlfart, C.; Liu, G.; Huang, C.; Kuenzer, C. A River Basin over the Course of Time: Multi-Temporal Analyses of Land Surface Dynamics in the Yellow River Basin (China) Based on Medium Resolution Remote Sensing Data. Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 186.

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