The change in albedo of arid lands is an indicator of changes in their condition and quality, including density of vegetative cover, erosion, deposition, surficial soil moisture, and man-made change. In general, darkening of an arid land surface indicates an increase in land quality while brightening indicates a decrease in quality, primarily owing to changes in vegetation. Landsat multiband images taken on different dates can be converted to black-and-white albedo images. Subtraction of one image from another, pixel by pixel, results in an albedo change map that can be density sliced to show areas that have brightened or darkened by selected percentages. These maps are then checked in the field to determine the reasons for the changes and to evaluate the changes in land condition and quality. The albedo change mapping technique has been successfully used in the arid lands of western Utah and northern Arizona and has recently been used for detection of coal strip mining activities in northern Alabama. ?? 1983.
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Space platform albedo measurements as indicators of change in arid lands