Vrieling, A, de Jong, SM, Sterk, G, Rodrigues, SC (2008). Timing of erosion and satellite data: A multi-resolution approach to soil erosion risk mapping. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATION AND GEOINFORMATION, 10(3), 267-281.
sloping terrain when high-intensity rainfall coincides with limited vegetation cover. Timing of erosion events has implications on the selection of satellite imagery, used to describe spatial patterns of protective vegetation cover. This study proposes a method for erosion risk mapping with multi-temporal and multi-resolution satellite data. The specific objectives of the study are: (1) to determine when during the year erosion risk is highest using coarse-resolution data, and (2) to assess the optimal timing of available medium-resolution images to spatially represent vegetation cover during the high erosion risk period. Analyses were performed for a 100-km(2) pasture area in the Brazilian Cerrados. The first objective was studied by qualitatively comparing three-hourly TRMM rainfall estimates with MODIS NDVI time series for one full year (August 2002-August 2003). November and December were identified as the months with highest erosion risk. The second objective was examined with a time series of six available ASTER images acquired in the same year. Persistent cloud cover limited image acquisition during high erosion risk periods. For each ASTER image the NDVI was calculated and classified into five equally sized classes. Low NDVI was related to high erosion risk and vice versa. A DEM was used to set approximately flat zones to very low erosion risk. The six resulting risk maps were compared with erosion features, visually interpreted from a fine-resolution QuickBird image. Results from the October ASTER image gave highest accuracy (84%), showing that erosion risk mapping in the Brazilian Cerrados can best be performed with images acquired shortly before the first erosion events. The presented approach that uses coarse-resolution temporal data for determining erosion periods and medium-resolution data for effective erosion risk mapping is fast and straightforward. It shows good potential for successful application in other areas with high spatial and temporal variability of vegetation cover. (C) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.