Identification and mapping of soil erosion areas in the Blue Nile, Eastern Sudan using multispectral ASTER and MODIS satellite data and the SRTM elevation model
Abstract. The area of the Upper Blue Nile in Eastern Sudan is considered prone to soil erosion which is an important indicator of the land degradation process. In this study, an erosion identification and mapping approach is developed based on adaptations to the regional characteristics of the study area and the availability of data. This approach is derived from fusion between remote sensing data and geographical information systems (GIS). The developed model is used to map the spatial distribution of soil erosion caused by the rains of 2006 using automatic classification of multispectral Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) imagery. Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model is used to orthoproject ASTER data. A maximum likelihood classifier is trained with four classes, Gully, Flat_land, Mountain and Water and applied to images from March and December 2006. Validation is done with field data from December and January 2006/2007. The results allow the identification of erosion gullies and subsequent estimation of eroded area. Consequently, the results are up-scaled using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) products of the same dates. Because the selected study site is representative of the wider Blue Nile region, it is expected that the approach presented could be applied to larger areas.