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Monitoring Effects of Land Cover Change on Biophysical Drivers in Rangelands Using Albedo

1
Department Geography and Environmental Studies, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch 7602, South Africa
2
School of Engineering, John Muir Building, The King’s Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JL, Scotland, United Kingdom
3
Agricultural Research Council-Animal Production, PO Box 101, Grahamstown 6130, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 9 January 2019 / Revised: 30 January 2019 / Accepted: 6 February 2019 / Published: 9 February 2019
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Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between land cover change and albedo, recognized as a regulating ecosystems service. Trends and relationships between land cover change and surface albedo were quantified to characterise catchment water and carbon fluxes, through respectively evapotranspiration (ET) and net primary production (NPP). Moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Landsat satellite data were used to describe trends at catchment and land cover change trajectory level. Peak season albedo was computed to reduce seasonal effects. Different trends were found depending on catchment land management practices, and satellite data used. Although not statistically significant, albedo, NPP, ET and normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) were all correlated with rainfall. In both catchments, NPP, ET and NDVI showed a weak negative trend, while albedo showed a weak positive trend. Modelled land cover change was used to calculate future carbon storage and water use, with a decrease in catchment carbon storage and water use computed. Grassland, a dominant dormant land cover class, was targeted for land cover change by woody encroachment and afforestation, causing a decrease in albedo, while urbanisation and cultivation caused an increase in albedo. Land cover map error of fragmented transition classes and the mixed pixel effect, affected results, suggesting use of higher-resolution imagery for NPP and ET and albedo as a proxy for land cover.
Keywords: land cover change; albedo; trend analysis; grasslands; ecosystems services; net primary production; evapotranspiration land cover change; albedo; trend analysis; grasslands; ecosystems services; net primary production; evapotranspiration
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

Münch, Z.; Gibson, L.; Palmer, A. Monitoring Effects of Land Cover Change on Biophysical Drivers in Rangelands Using Albedo. Land 2019, 8, 33.

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