Author(s): Nigatu Wondrade, Dick B, Tveite H
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Abstract Classifying multi-temporal image data to produce thematic maps and quantify land cover changes is one of the most common applications of remote sensing. Mapping land cover changes at the regional level is essential for a wide range of applications including land use planning, decision making, land cover database generation, and as a source of information for sustainable management of natural resources. Land cover changes in Lake Hawassa Watershed, Southern Ethiopia, were investigated using Landsat MSS image data of 1973, and Landsat TM images of 1985, 1995, and 2011, covering a period of nearly four decades. Each image was partitioned in a GIS environment, and classified using an unsupervised algorithm followed by a supervised classification method. A hybrid approach was employed in order to reduce spectral confusion due to high variability of land cover. Classification of satellite image data was performed integrating field data, aerial photographs, topographical maps, medium resolution satellite image (SPOT 20 m), and visual image interpretation. The image data were classified into nine land cover types: water, built-up, cropland, woody vegetation, forest, grassland, swamp, bare land, and scrub. The overall accuracy of the LULC maps ranged from 82.5 to 85.0 \%. The achieved accuracies were reasonable, and the observed classification errors were attributable to coarse spatial resolution and pixels containing a mixture of cover types. Land cover change statistics were extracted and tabulated using the ERDAS Imagine software. The results indicated an increase in built-up area, cropland, and bare land areas, and a reduction in the six other land cover classes. Predominant land cover is cropland changing from 43.6 \% in 1973 to 56.4 \% in 2011. A significant portion of land cover was converted into cropland. Woody vegetation and forest cover which occupied 21.0 and 10.3 \% in 1973, respectively, diminished to 13.6 and 5.6 \% in 2011. The change in water body was very peculiar in that the area of Lake Hawassa increased from 91.9 km(2) in 1973 to 95.2 km(2) in 2011, while that of Lake Cheleleka whose area was 11.3 km(2) in 1973 totally vanished in 2011 and transformed into mud-flat and grass dominated swamp. The "change and no change" analysis revealed that more than one third (548.0 km(2)) of the total area was exposed to change between 1973 and 2011. This study was useful in identifying the major land cover changes, and the analysis pursued provided a valuable insight into the ongoing changes in the area under investigation.
This article was published in Environ Monit Assess
and referenced in Forest Research: Open Access