Application of Fuzzy Models for the Monitoring of Ecologically Sensitive Ecosystems in a Dynamic Semi-arid Landscape from Satellite Imagery

Engineering Computations, 2010, Volume 27, Issue 1, Pages 5 – 19

Meng-Lung Lin and Cheng-Wu Chen

“Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to better understand landscape dynamics in arid and semi-arid environments. Land degradation has recently become an important issue for land management in western China. The oasis ecosystem is especially sensitive to environmental disturbances, such as abnormal/extreme precipitation events, variations in the water supply from the upper watersheds, fluctuations in temperature, etc. Satellite remote sensing of terrestrial ecosystems can provide us with the temporal dynamics and spatial distributions of green cover over large areas of landscape. Seasonal green cover data are especially important in assessing landscape health (e.g. desertification, rate of urban sprawl, natural disturbances) in arid and semi-arid regions. In this study, green cover data are derived from vegetation indices retrieved from moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors onboard the satellite Terra.

“Design/methodology/approach – Satellite images recorded during the period from April 2000 to December 2005 are analyzed and the spatial distribution and temporal changes of the Ejin Oasis quantified.

“Findings – This study shows that it is possible to derive important parameters linked to landscape sensitivity from MODIS and the derived imagery, such as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) time-series data. Such a MODIS-based time-series monitoring system is particularly useful in arid and semi-arid environments. The results of landscape sensitivity analysis prove the effectiveness of the method in assessing landscape sensitivity from the years 2001-2005.

“Practical implications – The novel strategy used in this investigation is based on the T-S fuzzy model, which is in turn based on fuzzy theory and fuzzy operations.

“Originality/value – Simulation results based on fuzzy models will help to improve the monitoring techniques used to evaluate land degradation and to estimate the newest tendency in landscape green cover dynamics in the Ejin Oasis.”