Desertification Detected in the Udhaim River Basin, Iraq Based on Spectral Indices Derived from Remote Sensing Images

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In this study, changes in Land Use Land Cover (LULC) have been investigated over the Udhaim River Basin in Iraq by using spectral indices. NDVI, NDBI, NDWI, NDBaI, and CI represent respectively the vegetation, built-up, water bodies, bare-land, and soil crust of LULC. Two different images were acquired for the analysis, namely a Landsat 5 TM image from 1 July 2007 and a Landsat 8 OLI from 5 June 2015, both representing summer conditions. Results show that the percentages of vegetated land and water body areas have decreased. On the contrary, the percentages of built-up, bare land and soil crust areas have increased. The loss of vegetated areas and water body areas is a signal of land degradation leading to desertification, due to the combined effects of climate conditions, water deficit and human activities. Field observation shows that human activities have a significant impact on land degradation.

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