Title: Assessment using remote sensing and GIS methods: A case study in Skeiðarásandur, Iceland

Author(s): Rabanus Shoopala
Final project
Year of publication:
Document URL: Link
Supervisors: Sigmar Metusalemsson , Johann Thorarensen , Olafur Arnalds
SAVI, floods, vegetation degradation, SPOT, Landsat, Iceland


The environmental global problem of land degradation seriously harms human existence and development. In some areas seasonal floods deliver valuable topsoil and nutrients to farmland and bring life to otherwise infertile regions of the world. In contrast, flash floods and large floods are responsible for more deaths than tornadoes and hurricanes combined. Many plants that are food resources for animals can be destroyed by flood water by being dislodged, battered or suffocated from soil inundation. In Iceland, catastrophic floods are associated with volcanic eruptions beneath the glaciers. In locales where larger volumes of sediment are flushed from beneath glaciers, they are instrumental in creating outwash plains or sandur. Often the vegetation suffers as a result of sedimentation and dislocation. The aim of this study was therefore to assess the impact of the 1996 flood on the vegetative cover in the Skeiðarársandar area and to determine its current state of recovery. One Landsat image from 1990 and one SPOT image from 2006 were used to produce a SAVI map. The results suggested that there were no serious set-backs in vegetative cover, excluding two areas in the north-eastern part of the sandur, just below the glacier ice cap. Proper field investigation is required to assess the exact influence of the flood on vegetation and soils.

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