Environmental Management

, Volume 50, Issue 6, pp 1234-1246

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Multisensor Monitoring System for Assessment of Locust Hazard Risk in the Lake Balkhash Drainage Basin

  • Pavel PropastinAffiliated withCartograpphy, GIS and Remote Sensing, George August University GöttingenInstitute of Bioclimatology, George August University Göttingen Email author 


Satellite and ground-based data were combined in a monitoring system to quantify the link between climate conditions and the risk of locust infestations in the southern part of Lake Balkhash’s drainage basin in the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this monitoring system, the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), derived from the SPOT-VGT satellite, was used for mapping potential locust habitats and monitoring their area throughout 1998 to 2007. TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason 1 altimeter data were used to track the interannual dynamics of water level in Balkhash Lake. Climate conditions were represented by weather records for air temperature and precipitation during the same period. The classification procedure, based on an analysis of multitemporal dynamics of SPOT-VGT NDVI values observed by individual vegetation classes, generated annual areas of ten land-cover types, which were then categorized as areas with low, medium, and high risk for locust infestation. Statistical analyses showed significant influences of the climatic parameters and the Balkhash Lake hydrological regime on the spatial extend of annual areas of potential locust habitats. The results also indicate that the linkages between locust infestation risk and environmental factors are characterized by time lags. The expansion of locust risk areas are usually preceded by dry, hot years and lower water levels in Balkhash Lake when larger areas of reed grass are free from seasonal flooding. Years with such conditions are favourable for locust outbreaks due to expansion of the habitat areas suitable for locust oviposition and nymphal development. In contrast, years with higher water levels in Balkhash Lake and lower temperature decrease the potential locust habitat area.


Locust risk Lake Balkhash River Ili Water table Vegetation dynamics Remote sensing