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Water 2018, 10(7), 933; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10070933

Four Decades of Estuarine Wetland Changes in the Yellow River Delta Based on Landsat Observations Between 1973 and 2013

1
Department of Geography and Geomatics, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou 221116, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Remote Sensing Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
3
Department of Geography and Geomatics, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou 221116, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 April 2018 / Revised: 28 June 2018 / Accepted: 3 July 2018 / Published: 13 July 2018
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Abstract

Yellow River Delta wetlands are essential for the migration of endangered birds and breeding. The wetlands, however, have been severely damaged during recent decades, partly due to the lack of wetland ecosystem protection by authorities. To have a better historical understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics of the wetlands, this study aims to map and characterize patterns of the loss and degradation of wetlands in the Yellow River Delta using a time series of remotely sensed images (at nine points in time) based on object-based image analysis and knowledge transfer learning technology. Spatio-temporal analysis was conducted to document the long-term changes taking place in different wetlands over the four decades. The results showed that the Yellow River Delta wetlands have experienced significant changes between 1973 and 2013. The total area of wetlands has been reduced by 683.12 km2 during the overall period and the trend of loss continues. However, the rates and trends of change for the different types of wetlands were not the same. The natural wetlands showed a statistically significant decrease in area during the overall period (36.04 km2·year−1). Meanwhile, the artificial wetlands had the opposite trend and showed a statistically significant increase in area during the past four decades (18.96 km2·year−1). According to the change characteristics revealed by the time series wetland classification maps, the evolution process of the Yellow River Delta wetlands could be divided into three stages: (1) From 1973–1984, basically stable, but with little increase; (2) from 1984–1995, rapid loss; and (3) from 1995–2013, slow loss. The area of the wetlands reached a low point around 1995, and then with a little improvement, the regional wetlands entered a slow loss stage. It is believed that interference by human activities (e.g., urban construction, cropland creation, and oil exploitation) was the main reason for wetland degradation in the Yellow River Delta over the past four decades. Climate change also has long-term impacts on regional wetlands. In addition, due to the special geographical environment, the hydrological and sediment conditions and the location of the Yellow River mouth also have a significant influence on the evolution process of the wetlands. View Full-Text
Keywords: Yellow River Delta; estuarine wetlands; spatiotemporal change analysis; remote sensing Yellow River Delta; estuarine wetlands; spatiotemporal change analysis; remote sensing
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Zhu, C.; Zhang, X.; Huang, Q. Four Decades of Estuarine Wetland Changes in the Yellow River Delta Based on Landsat Observations Between 1973 and 2013. Water 2018, 10, 933.

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