Monitoring interannual dynamics of desertification in Minqin County, China, using dense Landsat time series

Xiaolin Zhu, Kwok Huen Leung, Wing Sze Li, Lek Kin Cheung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Minqin County in northwestern China is highly affected by desertification. Campaigns have been initiated in recent decades to combat desertification in Minqin. To assess the effectiveness of these campaigns, this study used a dense Landsat time series from 1987 to 2017 to investigate the interannual dynamics of vegetation coverage and greenness over the past 31 years. First, this study applied an advanced technology to reconstruct a high-quality Landsat annual time series. Specifically, one image in the vegetation-peak season was selected as the base image in each year, and then problematic pixels were interpolated by the neighborhood similar pixel interpolator using ancillary images in the same year. Second, the land cover map and the enhanced vegetation index (EVI) were derived from all reconstructed images. Third, the change of vegetation coverage and EVI values over the 31 years were analyzed. The results show that the total vegetation coverage and greenness increased during the 31 years. Linking this change trend to other factors suggests that vegetation in Minqin County is highly affected by agriculture and groundwater supply rather than by climate. To mitigate desertification in a sustainable way, agriculture should be well managed to avoid overconsumption of natural resources such as underground water.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Digital Earth
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • agriculture
  • desertification
  • Landsat
  • Minqin County
  • time series
  • vegetation cover

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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