Mapping South America's Drylands through Remote Sensing—A Review of the Methodological Trends and Current Challenges

Khalil Ali Ganem, Yongkang Xue, Ariane de Almeida Rodrigues, Washington Franca-Rocha, Marceli Terra de Oliveira, Nathália Silva de Carvalho, Efrain Yury Turpo Cayo, Marcos Reis Rosa, Andeise Cerqueira Dutra, Yosio Edemir Shimabukuro
2022 Remote Sensing  
The scientific grasp of the distribution and dynamics of land use and land cover (LULC) changes in South America is still limited. This is especially true for the continent's hyperarid, arid, semiarid, and dry subhumid zones, collectively known as drylands, which are under-represented ecosystems that are highly threatened by climate change and human activity. Maps of LULC in drylands are, thus, essential in order to investigate their vulnerability to both natural and anthropogenic impacts. This
more » ... paper comprehensively reviewed existing mapping initiatives of South America's drylands to discuss the main knowledge gaps, as well as central methodological trends and challenges, for advancing our understanding of LULC dynamics in these fragile ecosystems. Our review centered on five essential aspects of remote-sensing-based LULC mapping: scale, datasets, classification techniques, number of classes (legends), and validation protocols. The results indicated that the Landsat sensor dataset was the most frequently used, followed by AVHRR and MODIS, and no studies used recently available high-resolution satellite sensors. Machine learning algorithms emerged as a broadly employed methodology for land cover classification in South America. Still, such advancement in classification methods did not yet reflect in the upsurge of detailed mapping of dryland vegetation types and functional groups. Among the 23 mapping initiatives, the number of LULC classes in their respective legends varied from 6 to 39, with 1 to 14 classes representing drylands. Validation protocols included fieldwork and automatic processes with sampling strategies ranging from solely random to stratified approaches. Finally, we discussed the opportunities and challenges for advancing research on desertification, climate change, fire mapping, and the resilience of dryland populations. By and large, multi-level studies for dryland vegetation mapping are still lacking.
doi:10.3390/rs14030736 fatcat:ilz76uwsqreallzdzdbulhcrzy