The use of remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in assessing changes in stream morphology and vegetation Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/vt150p42z

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  • Remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are well known tools for the study of time change analysis in natural systems. However, long-term studies of riparian systems using large-scale aerial photography are less common. The purpose of this project was to combine large scale aerial photography, GIS, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and ground truthing for conducting a time change analysis study of an eastern Oregon riparian area over a 20 year time period. The objectives were to assess changes in stream morphology and vegetation that occurred in grazed and exclosed areas from 1979 to 1998. In addition, the viability of using large-scale (1:4000) aerial photography combined with GIS/GPS and ground truthing in this study was evaluated. GIS layers of vegetation and stream morphology parameters were developed from geocorrected images. Ground truthing included the collection of vegetation and stream channel measurements. In addition, older aerial photography and previously collected survey data were available for this study. The area of land changing to water and vice versa was calculated over the 41 ha large study area. This area of change (3.65 ha) was slightly larger than the area of no change (3.2 ha). The length of the thalweg and streambank, sinuosity and stream area remained relatively the same. Most of the changes were associated with the islands. Their number decreased, but their area increased, suggesting an increase in stability. Stream width decreased in both grazed and exclosed sites. Shrub and tree cover increased from 1979 to 1998 over the whole study area from 23% to 34%, and this increase was similar in grazed and exclosed sites. The variability of shrub/tree cover within and between the grazed and exclosed sites was high. Topography and stream dynamics appeared to control changes in stream morphology, including erosion, deposition and island formation. We could find no association between the observed changes and the grazing treatment. The use of large-scale aerial photography, GIS and GPS proved to be a powerful tool for detecting change over time and it is expected that these techniques will become more common in rangeland analysis. It is anticipated that the methods used in this study can be applied to and will help in monitoring of other rangeland streams.
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