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Senior lecturer

Micael Runnström

Senior lecturer

Senior lecturer

Rangeland development of the Mu Us sandy land in semiarid China: An analysis using landsat and NOAA remote sensing data


  • Micael Runnström

Summary, in English

Degradation of the dry semiarid ecosystems in the Mu Us Sandy Land of north central China was explored using high-resolution satellite images from 1978, 1987 and 1996. This study monitored both changes in grassland biomass production and reclamation activities to detect the nature and scale of land degradation since major economic reforms were introduced in 1978. The position of the high-resolution images within the vegetation cycles was inspected from National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NDVI images at 10-day repetition and seasonal precipitation patterns. A model was developed to categorize changes in the vegetation signal activity from 30 x 30 m pixels into vegetation cover development and land-use changes between 1987 and 1996. A general increase of biomass production was evident despite the rapid increase in numbers of grazing animals. This increase in biomass was confirmed by the NOAA time series, which also revealed annual variability related to the amount and pattern of the seasonal rains. Rangeland conversion to farmland was detected, and this process has increased the area of cultivation almost fivefold. The classified area of cultivation corresponds with reported statistical records, also showing that irrigation features in virtually 100 per cent of the sown area. Signs of declining biological production, indicating land degradation processes, are few. Biomass production has increased, with a gain in the economic output from both crop and animal production. The early start of active measures to halt desertification has increased vegetation cover and lowered wind erosion potential and grasslands seems to be managing the high levels of grazing pressure. Copyright (C) 2003 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.


  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science

Publishing year







Land Degradation and Development





Document type

Journal article


John Wiley & Sons Inc.


  • Physical Geography


  • China
  • Mu Us
  • NDVI
  • NOAA
  • Landsat TM
  • remote sensing
  • land degradation
  • desertification
  • Inner Mongolia
  • Ordos




  • ISSN: 1099-145X