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Title Changes in vegetation cover in Namibian Savannas as retrieved by remote sensing and its relationship to precipitation and land use

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Short title hanges in vegetation cover in Namibian Savannas

Author(s) Gessner, U.(1); Hüttich, C.(1); Keil, M.(2); Schmidt, M.(2)

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Institution(s) (1) University of Wuerzburg, Remote Sensing Unit in cooperation with DLR, Wuerzburg, Germany; (2) German Aerospace Center – German Remote Sensing Data Center DLR-DFD, Wessling, Germany

Keywords Vegetation change; fractional vegetation cover; remote sensing; variability; grazing

Abstract Southern African savanna landscapes are highly dynamic and sensitive ecosystems which are influenced by the interplay of inter-annual precipitation variability and human impact. In Namibian savannas, especially heavy grazing is said to have a major impact on vegetation structure, species composition and diversity.
In this study, multi-temporal Landsat TM data, Ikonos data and field survey data of selected Namibian savanna ecosystems are analysed in a multi-scale approach. In this way, changes in vegetation density, i.e. in fractional cover and in vegetation structure over the last approximately twenty years are identified. The remote sensing derived results are combined with socio-economic information like grazing practises and livestock densities (for example for the Sandveld Research Station in the Camelthorn Savanna) as well as with precipitation data with the aim to give spatially explicit and consistent evidence on the influence of human land use impact and natural inter-annual variability on these savanna ecosystems.
The presented approach delivers promising results, which shows that the integrated use of remote sensing data, rainfall records and socio- economic information bears high potential for a detection and inter-pretation of changes in fractional vegetation cover.

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