Identifying potential vegetation establishment areas on the dried Aral Sea floor using satellite images

Jiwon Kim, Cholho Song, Sujong Lee, Hyun Woo Jo, Eunbeen Park, Hangnan Yu, Sungeun Cha, Jiae An, Yowhan Son, Asia Khamzina, Woo Kyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The Aral Sea was one of the largest lakes in the world, but almost 60,000 km2 of the waterbody has dried up due to water withdrawal for irrigation. Afforestation on the desiccated seafloor could be important in preventing soil flation, dust storms, and negative impact on human health. In this study, we aimed to delineate potential vegetation establishment areas on the dried Aral Sea bed using remote-sensed data in support of the decision-making related to afforestation. Various indices such as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), topsoil grain size index (TGSI), soil salinity index (SSI), and normalized multiband drought index (NMDI) were calculated from the LANDSAT-8 OLI satellite imagery. As an indicator of vegetation existence, NDVI was classified into three groups and set as a base for classifying other indices by performing statistical analyses. Based on the decision tree method, indices were combined and the potential vegetation establishment area was detected. Higher NDVI was identified in the southeast than the west of the study area. The results of statistical analyses showed that TGSI had a positive correlation with NDVI, while SSI and NMDI had a negative correlation. Overall, the potential vegetation area comprised 7,295.21 km2 (61.34%) of the 'unsuitable' area, 2,818.64 km2 (23.7%) of the 'intermediate' area, 1,612.15 km2 (13.56%) of the 'suitable' area, and 166.42 km2 (1.4%) of the 'very suitable' area. The developed map enables to identify dried seafloor area suitable for vegetation establishment thus contributing to planning the land rehabilitation efforts and preventing further land degradation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2749-2762
Number of pages14
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Biodiversity Conservation Fund of Kazakhstan; National Research Foundation of Korea, Grant/Award Number: 2018K1A3A7A03089842 Funding information

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the International Research & Development Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (Grant number: 2018K1A3A7A03089842) and Biodiversity Conservation Fund of Kazakhstan.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Afforestation plan
  • Land degradation
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Development
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Soil Science


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