Landsat Image Analysis of the Rebea Agricultural Project, Mosul Dam and Lake, Northern Iraq

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 8:45 AM
William Welsh and Faris Alassadi, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, United States
An archive of 70 good-to-excellent quality Landsat TM and ETM+ images acquired between 1984 and 2011 were identified through visual examination of the GLOVIS web portal. After careful consideration of factors relevant to agriculture in the region (e.g., crop calendar) and associated image processing needs (e.g., preference for anniversary dates), the images deemed most appropriate were downloaded. Standard preprocessing, including visual quality and statistical inspection, sub-setting to the study area, was performed, and the results combined in a database with available GIS data. The resolution merge spatial enhancement technique was applied to any ETM+ imagery to improve visual clarity and interpretability. The NDVI was calculated for all images in the time series. Unsupervised classification of images was performed for dates ranging from 1987 just before the inception of the Rebea project in 1989 through 2011. In order to reduce uncertainty related to lack of detailed ancillary and/or ground reference data, simple land cover classes were mapped, specifically: surface water, agriculture, and other. Results were able to quantify and track areas of each class over time, and showed a marked decrease in agriculture between the Iraq invasion in 2003 to the end of the study period in 2011, despite massive efforts and capital by the United States and Iraqi governments to improve agriculture in the area. Complications to understanding the role of warfare and conflict on the environment in the Mosul region include severe drought and water shortages, including effects of the Turkish GAP water resource development project in the headwaters of the Tigris-Euphrates, as well as Mosul Dam structural problems associated with geologically-unsuitable conditions upon which the dam is constructed. Now, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) likely captured the Mosul Dam on the day this abstract was submitted. Our Landsat-based monitoring and analysis of the Rebea Project and Mosul Dam continues, including the acquisition of Landsat 8 imagery for 31 July 2014, just prior to the ISIS attack. Details of our completed and ongoing research will be presented.