This paper presents a semi-automatic procedure to discriminate seasonally flooded areas in the shallow temporary marshes of Doñana National Park (SW Spain) by using a radiommetrically normalized long time series of Landsat MSS, TM, and ETM+ images (1974–2014). Extensive field campaigns for ground truth data retrieval were carried out simultaneous to Landsat overpasses. Ground truth was used as training and testing areas to check the performance of the method. Simple thresholds on TM and ETM band 5 (1.55–1.75 μm) worked significantly better than other empirical modeling techniques and supervised classification methods to delineate flooded areas at Doñana marshes. A classification tree was applied to band 5 reflectance values to classify flooded versus non-flooded pixels for every scene. Inter-scene cross-validation identified the most accurate threshold on band 5 reflectance (ρ < 0.186) to classify flooded areas (Kappa = 0.65). A joint TM-MSS acquisition was used to find the MSS band 4 (0.8 a 1.1 μm) threshold. The TM flooded area was identical to the results from MSS 4 band threshold ρ < 0.10 despite spectral and spatial resolution differences. Band slicing was retrospectively applied to the complete time series of MSS and TM images. About 391 flood masks were used to reconstruct historical spatial and temporal patterns of Doñana marshes flooding, including hydroperiod. Hydroperiod historical trends were used as a baseline to understand Doñana’s flooding regime, test hydrodynamic models, and give an assessment of relevant management and restoration decisions. The historical trends in the hydroperiod of Doñana marshes show two opposite spatial patterns. While the north-western part of the marsh is increasing its hydroperiod, the southwestern part shows a steady decline. Anomalies in each flooding cycle allowed us to assess recent management decisions and monitor their hydrological effects.
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