Comparison of two Satellite Imaging Platforms for Evaluating Sand Dune Migration in the Ubari Sand Sea (Libyan Fazzan)
- School of Geography, Archaeology & Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
Keywords: Sand dunes, Sahara, Remote Sensing, Libya, Desertification, Geomorphology
Abstract. Sand dunes can change location, form or dimensions depending on wind direction and strength. Sand dune movements can be effectively monitored through the comparison of multi-temporal satellite images. However, not all remote sensing platforms are suitable to study sand dunes. This study compares coarse (Landsat) and fine (Worldview) resolution platforms, specifically focussing on sand dunes within the Ubari Sand Sea (Libya). Sand dune features (crest line, dune ridge basal outlines) were extracted from Landsat and Worldview 2 imagery in order to construct geomorphic maps. These geomorphic maps were then compared using image overlay and differencing, and the Root Mean Squared Error (RMSE) was used to determine if the mapped dune patterns were significantly different. It was found that Landsat is a sufficient data source when studying dune patterns within a regional sand sea, but smaller dunes identified from Worldview data were not capable of being extracted in the data sourced from Landsat. This means that for studies concerned with the dune patterns and movements within sand seas, Landsat is sufficient. But in studies where the specific dynamics of specific dunes are required, a finer resolution is required; platforms such as Worldview are needed in order to gain more detailed insight and to link the past and present day climate and environmental change.