Large-scale regional delineation of riparian vegetation in the arid and semi-arid Pilbara region, WA

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Hydrological Processes




School of Engineering




Alaibakhsh, M., Emelyanova, I., Barron, O., Khiadani, M., & Warren, G. (2017). Large‐scale regional delineation of riparian vegetation in the arid and semi‐arid Pilbara region, WA. Hydrological Processes, 31(24), 4269-4281.


Multiscene Landsat 5 TM imagery, Principal Component Analysis, and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index were used to produce the first region-scale map of riparian vegetation for the Pilbara (230,000 km2), Western Australia. Riparian vegetation is an environmentally important habitat in the arid and desert climate of the Pilbara. These habitats are supported by infrequent flow events and in some locations by groundwater discharge. Our analysis suggests that riparian vegetation covers less than 4% of the Pilbara region, whereas almost 10.5% of this area is composed of groundwater dependent vegetation (GDV). GDV is often associated with open water (river pools), providing refugia for a variety of species. GDV has an extremely high ecological value and are often important Indigenous sites. This paper demonstrates how Landsat data calibrated to Top of Atmosphere reflectance can be used to delineate riparian vegetation across 16 Landsat scenes and two Universal Transverse Mercator spatial zones. The proposed method is able to delineate riparian vegetation and GDV, without the need for Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function correction. Results were validated using ground truth data from local and regional scale vegetation surveys.



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