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Assessing Land Degradation and Desertification Using Vegetation Index Data: Current Frameworks and Future Directions

School of Science and the Environment, Manchester Metropolitan University, Chester Street, Manchester, M1 5GD, UK
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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(10), 9552-9575; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs6109552
Received: 6 August 2014 / Revised: 12 September 2014 / Accepted: 23 September 2014 / Published: 10 October 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Land Degradation in Drylands)
Land degradation and desertification has been ranked as a major environmental and social issue for the coming decades. Thus, the observation and early detection of degradation is a primary objective for a number of scientific and policy organisations, with remote sensing methods being a candidate choice for the development of monitoring systems. This paper reviews the statistical and ecological frameworks of assessing land degradation and desertification using vegetation index data. The development of multi-temporal analysis as a desertification assessment technique is reviewed, with a focus on how current practice has been shaped by controversy and dispute within the literature. The statistical techniques commonly employed are examined from both a statistical as well as ecological point of view, and recommendations are made for future research directions. The scientific requirements for degradation and desertification monitoring systems identified here are: (I) the validation of methodologies in a robust and comparable manner; and (II) the detection of degradation at minor intensities and magnitudes. It is also established that the multi-temporal analysis of vegetation index data can provide a sophisticated measure of ecosystem health and variation, and that, over the last 30 years, considerable progress has been made in the respective research. View Full-Text
Keywords: land degradation; desertification; NDVI; NPP; multi-temporal; trend analysis; RESTREND; RUE; UNCCD land degradation; desertification; NDVI; NPP; multi-temporal; trend analysis; RESTREND; RUE; UNCCD
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Higginbottom, T.P.; Symeonakis, E. Assessing Land Degradation and Desertification Using Vegetation Index Data: Current Frameworks and Future Directions. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 9552-9575.

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