12.1 More information on remote sensing applied to drought and desertification mapping

Remote sensing: a tool for monitoring.

Several researches were launched in this objective of monitoring, follow-up and cartography of drought, desertification and climatic changes impact in countries affected by these plagues.

Figure -15- Wind lane Map and the risk of silting in West region of Biskra CRSTRA (Algeria)


Research carried out in the Algerian steppe, the Tunisian South (Menzel Habib) in sub-Saharan countries (Niger) and on the desert fringe of the Nile clearly proved the feasibility of the follow-up of desertification by satellite. Time to confront resultants with the reality of the ground and necessity of the spacial imaging


Indicators of the drought and desertification state (color and composition of soils, roughness, deposit rates of vegetation) and of its evolution, could be obtained since space by remote sensing. Maps can be elaborated from these indices whose crossings in a GIS give the state of environment to a T time.

Expander cards of mobile sands and the biomass degradation were established by remote sensing by image processing and of indices such as the vegetation index, color and brightness of surfaces recorded by images are calculated.

The remote sensing techniques, combined with a very good knowledge of soil, allow detecting the evolution of degradation of arid regions but also their restoration.

Considering these risks exceed the limits of countries even continents, programs such as the Cameleo program (). The IRD led, in collaboration with the Egeo unit of Institute of space applications of the Joint Research Center and with the support of the European Union, This research, which associates Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, and is based on the Roselt network; aim at defining a complete method of follow-up of desertification in the south of the Mediterranean.
It is in particular a question of obtaining, on field and by satellite remote sensing, data usable for management of the arid environment and similar from a country to another. This in order to identify, at a local scale, zones where soils and vegetation are degraded, are stable or to be improved, and to understand relations between these changes and their use by the man.

In Algeria, map of sensibility in the desertification was elaborated in 1995 by the FGD and the ALSA. It is perpetually actualisable.Therefor,the Center of Scientific and Technical Reasearch on Arid Regions (CRSTRA),elaborated vulnerability maps on desertification and silting through ecological entities.
Besides, the OSS, the HAD and the partners of the Magreb (ALGERIA TUNISIA MOROCCO) work at the implementation of the early alarm system through the Life SMAS project, this alert focuses on the production and the distribution of indicators of vulnerability of naturalresources, compared to the climatic and anthropological press to which they are subjected. The elaboration of indicators has to use all the available approaches, climatic satellital embellish with images, in the compilations of the meteorological, dated, the biophysics and socioeconomic. The indicators of premature alert of the drought will feed also information flow systems of the national and sub-regional action plans to combat desertification, established in accordance with principles of the Convention of the United Nations to Combat Desertification.

To evaluate the progression of these insidious phenomena (drought, desertification and climate changes impacts), the remote sensing helps collecting data on vast surfaces with regular intervals. By comparing data images between dates, it is probable to find out the evolution of drought and desertification.

Maps can be established such as the albedo (R0), the vegetation index (NDVI) and the temperature of surface Ts recorded thanks satellite measurements of sensor MODIS of TERRA or VEGETATION of SPOT or by sensors AVHRR of NOAA these satellites which provide images to weak space resolution and allow carrying out a regular follow-up at very weak cost of natural resources.

These images have a broad observation field (about entire country) and a daily temporal resolution, very useful for a regular follow-up, mainly the vegetation.

Furthermore, to make a note of the use of images with average resolution such as Land sat, (30m of resolution space) Alsat (32m), SPOT (20m) and images with high resolution such as IKONOS (1m) Quicbird (1m).

For characterization and cartography of the hydric state, the soil quality and state of degradation of a surface. One of the key ideas is the combination of these parameters resulting by image processing two to two (R0 – Ts; NDVI – Ts and R0 – NDVI).

The quoted images may be provided by manufacturers of these satellites as they may be ordered by representatives of these structures in several countries. Each image includes its price (see site SPOTIMAGE). Concerning the factorial maps, grounds, of the ground occupation, drought, desertification; May be that they are public and setting on line on Internet as it is the case of several countries, are requested from the manufacturer.