Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Ronald Dilamarter, Michael Trapasso, Wayne Hoffman

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Desertification is a problem occurring in arid and semiarid zones all over the world. It is a consequence of mismanagement of the land. Human activities and livestock pressure on such fragile ecosystems lead to a deterioration of the soil by increasing its salinity, lessening its moisture, and covering it with sand and dust. Aerial photographs and satellite images constitute a tool for mapping and monitoring the desertification process. Multispectral data can assist in detecting the indicators of desertification in early stages in order to plan adequate action.

The improvement of the resolution of satellite images and the fact that they are available on a periodic basis make the use of these data suitable for mapping the evolution of desert patches at large scales. The green band of Landsat MSS is used in this study.

Two images taken, respectively, in 1976 and 1985 and covering the province of Ouarzazate in southern Morocco are used to map the desertification process and its evolution in the region. At the scale used and given the ground resolution of the MSS (80 meters), significant changes were found between the two images. However, changes occurring at scale smaller than 80 meter square were impossible to detect by visual interpretation of this band.


Geography | Nature and Society Relations | Physical and Environmental Geography | Remote Sensing | Social and Behavioral Sciences