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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 12
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 2415–2428, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-14-2415-2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Climate, weather and hydrology of East African Highlands

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 2415–2428, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-14-2415-2010
© Author(s) 2010. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 03 Dec 2010

Research article | 03 Dec 2010

The use of remote sensing to quantify wetland loss in the Choke Mountain range, Upper Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia

E. Teferi1,3, S. Uhlenbrook1,2, W. Bewket4, J. Wenninger1,2, and B. Simane3 E. Teferi et al.
  • 1UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, P.O. Box 3015, 2601 DA Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2Delft University of Technology, Department of Water Management, P.O. Box 5048, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands
  • 3Institute for Environment, Water and Development Studies, Addis Ababa University, P.O. Box 2176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • 4Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Addis Ababa University, P.O. Box 2176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Abstract. Wetlands provide multiple ecosystem services such as storing and regulating water flows and water quality, providing unique habitats to flora and fauna, and regulating micro-climatic conditions. Conversion of wetlands for agricultural use is a widespread practice in Ethiopia, particularly in the southwestern part where wetlands cover large areas. Although there are many studies on land cover and land use changes in this region, comprehensive studies on wetlands are still missing. Hence, extent and rate of wetland loss at regional scales is unknown. The objective of this paper is to quantify wetland dynamics and estimate wetland loss in the Choke Mountain range (area covering 17 443 km2) in the Upper Blue Nile basin, a key headwater region of the river Nile. Therefore, satellite remote sensing imagery of the period 1986–2005 were considered. To create images of surface reflectance that are radiometrically consistent, a combination of cross-calibration and atmospheric correction (Vogelman-DOS3) methods was used. A hybrid supervised/unsupervised classification approach was used to classify the images. Overall accuracies of 94.1% and 93.5% and Kappa Coefficients of 0.908 and 0.913 for the 1986 and 2005 imageries, respectively were obtained. The results showed that 607 km2 of seasonal wetland with low moisture and 22.4 km2 of open water are lost in the study area during the period 1986 to 2005. The current situation in the wetlands of Choke Mountain is characterized by further degradation which calls for wetland conservation and rehabilitation efforts through incorporating wetlands into watershed management plans.

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