Correlation between desertification and environmental variables using remote sensing techniques in Hogno Khaan, Mongolia

Munkhnasan Lamchin, Woo Kyun Lee, Seong Woo Jeon, Jong Yeol Lee, Cholho Song, Dongfan Piao, Chul Hee Lim, Akhmadi Khaulenbek, Itgelt Navaandorj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we used Landsat thematic mapper (TM) and enhanced thematic mapper (ETM) data from 1990, 2002, and 2011 to analyze the spatial and temporal patterns of desertification using seven factors; the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), the topsoil grain size index (TGSI), land surface albedo, the topographic wetness index (TWI), land surface temperature (LST), the perpendicular drought index (PDI), and the elevation of Hogno Khaan, which lies in a semiarid region of central Mongolia. We normalized the indicators, determined their weights, and defined five levels of desertification; none, low, medium, high, and severe. Sets of rules were constructed, and a multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) approach was used to assess desertification and test the correlations between the seven variables in comparison to the different levels of desertification, with field and reference data used for accuracy. We provide a review of the literature on MCE applied to desertification assessment issues based on satellite data. At the first step, major desertification factors were computed for satellite data. The next step was the construction of pairwise comparison matrix. Then, the weight of each factor was determined by the contribution of an analytical hierarchy process. Finally, the susceptible areas to desertification in the study area were identified using a multi-criteria evaluation method. We found that more than 15% of the total land area in Hogno Khaan suffered from severe desertification in 2011, increasing from 7% in 1990. Our analysis showed that the highest correlations were between TGSI and albedo, PDI and TGSI, and PDI and albedo at all levels of desertification. LST was less strongly correlated with TGSI, albedo, and PDI. The correlation of TWI with PDI and NDVI in the non- and low desertification areas produced R values of 0.15 and 0.58, respectively. The correlation analysis indicated a significant positive correlation between TWI and both NDVI and PDI for all years in non- and low desertification areas. Comparing elevation and NDVI, the highest correlation was found for severe desertification in 2002, although correlations for severe desertification were lower in 1990 and 2011.

Original languageEnglish
Article number581
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 11

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors.


  • Assessment
  • Correlation
  • Desertification
  • Drought
  • Land degradation
  • Topsoil grain size index
  • Vegetation
  • Wetness topographic index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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