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Proxy global assessment of land degradation


Bai, Z G; Dent, D L; Olsson, L; Schaepman, M E (2008). Proxy global assessment of land degradation. Soil Use and Management, 24(3):223-234.

Abstract

Land degradation is always with us but its causes, extent and severity are contested. We define land degradation as a long-term decline in ecosystem function and productivity, which may be assessed using long-term, remotely sensed normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data. Deviation from the norm may serve as a proxy assessment of land degradation and improvement – if other factors that may be responsible are taken into account. These other factors include rainfall effects which may be assessed by rain-use efficiency, calculated from NDVI and rainfall. Results from the analysis of the 23-year Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) NDVI data indicate declining rain-use efficiency-adjusted NDVI on ca. 24% of the global land area with degrading areas mainly in Africa south of the equator, South-East Asia and south China, north-central Australia, the Pampas and swaths of the Siberian and north American taiga; 1.5 billion people live in these areas. The results are very different from previous assessments which compounded what is happening now with historical land degradation. Economic appraisal can be undertaken when land degradation is expressed in terms of net primary productivity and the resultant data allow statistical comparison with other variables to reveal possible drivers.

Abstract

Land degradation is always with us but its causes, extent and severity are contested. We define land degradation as a long-term decline in ecosystem function and productivity, which may be assessed using long-term, remotely sensed normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data. Deviation from the norm may serve as a proxy assessment of land degradation and improvement – if other factors that may be responsible are taken into account. These other factors include rainfall effects which may be assessed by rain-use efficiency, calculated from NDVI and rainfall. Results from the analysis of the 23-year Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) NDVI data indicate declining rain-use efficiency-adjusted NDVI on ca. 24% of the global land area with degrading areas mainly in Africa south of the equator, South-East Asia and south China, north-central Australia, the Pampas and swaths of the Siberian and north American taiga; 1.5 billion people live in these areas. The results are very different from previous assessments which compounded what is happening now with historical land degradation. Economic appraisal can be undertaken when land degradation is expressed in terms of net primary productivity and the resultant data allow statistical comparison with other variables to reveal possible drivers.

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168 citations in Web of Science®
197 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:18 Jul 2012 15:29
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:49
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0266-0032
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-2743.2008.00169.x

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