Utilization of Historical Maps in the Land Use Change Impact Studies: A Case Study from Myjava River Basin

Abstract

The way land is used has a significant impact on many hydrological processes that determine the generation of flood runoff or soil erosion. Advancements in remote sensing which took place in the second half of the 20th century have led to the rise of a new research area focused on analyses of land use changes and their impact on hydrological processes. This study deals with an analysis of the changes in land use over a period of almost three centuries in the Myjava River catchment, which has an outlet at Šaštín-Stráže. In order to obtain information about the way the land was used in the past, three historical mappings representing various periods were used: the first (1st) military mapping (1764-1787), second (2nd) military mapping (1807-1869), and a military topographic mapping (1953-1957). The historical mappings have been manually vectorised in an ArcGIS environment to identify various land use categories. The historical evolution of land use was further compared with a concurrent land use mapping, which was undertaken in 2010 and exploited remote sensing techniques. The study also quantifies the impact of these changes on the long-term catchment runoff as well as their impact on flows induced by extreme precipitation events. This analysis was performed using the WetSpa distributed hydrological model, which enables the simulation of catchment runoff in a daily time step. The analysis showed that the selected catchment has undergone significant changes in land use, mainly characterized by massive deforestation at the end of the 18th century and land consolidation in the middle of the 20th century induced by communist collectivisation. The hydrological simulations demonstrated that the highest and lowest mean annual runoffs were simulated in the first (1st military mapping) and the last (concurrent land use monitoring) time intervals respectively with the smallest and largest percentages of forested areas.

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