Landsat digital data spanning the period 1972-1979 were analyzed to monitor the status of vegetation within and outside an exclosure in the northern Sinai (precipitation 100-150 mm/year). This 6??6 km exclosure was fenced off in the summer of 1974 and subsequently has been free from the anthropogenic pressures (overgrazing, cultivation in small fields, and harvesting of dry plants as firewood) that continued outside the exclosure. The recovery of the ecosystem within the exclosure is monitored applying a previously tested model. The model quantitatively describes the reduction in the reflectivity to zenith due to shadowing effects by mostly vertical plants. The darkening (reduction in the reflectivity) in the exclosure was compared to the status before the fencing-off and to the essentially unchanging bare sands outside the exclosure. The vegetation protrusion parameter s (sum of the products of plant height times diameter for a unit area of the surface), calculated from Landsat digital data for the exclosure, increased from essentially zero in 1972 and 1973 to about 0.18 in 1975 and changed only within narrow limits from 1975 to 1979. The s value of 0.18 indicates that if the clumps of the plants protruding from the surface in the exclosure were laid horizontally on the soil, they would cover 18 percent of the area. This parameter provides a quantitative measure of the condition of the ecosystem, but the relation to the total green and/or brown biomass remains to be determined. ?? 1983.
Additional publication details
Landsat monitoring of desert vegetation growth, 1972-1979 using a plant-shadowing model