Evaluation of indicators for desertification risk assessment in part of Thar Desert Region of Rajasthan using geospatial techniques

  • Sagar S Salunkhe
  • A K Bera
  • S S Rao
  • V Raghu Venkataraman
  • Uday Raj
  • Y V N Krishna Murthy


Desertification has emerged as a major economic, social and environmental problem in the western part of India. The best way of dealing with desertification is to take appropriate measures to arrest land degradation, especially in areas prone to desertification. This requires an early warning system for desertification based on scientific inputs. Hence, in the present study, an attempt has been made to develop a comprehensive model for the assessment of desertification risk in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, India, using 23 desertification indicators. Indicators including soil, climate, vegetation and socio-economic parameters were integrated into a GIS environment to get environmental sensitive areas (ESAs) to desertification. Desertification risk index (DRI) was calculated based on ESAs to desertification, the degree of land degradation and significant desertification indicators obtained from the stepwise multiple regression model. DRI was validated by using independent indicators such as soil organic matter content and cation exchange capacity. Multiple regression analysis shows that 16 indicators out of 23 were found to be significant for assessing desertification risk at a 99% confidence interval with \(R^{2}=0.83\). The proposed methodology provides a series of effective indicators that would help to identify where desertification is a current or potential problem, and what could be the actions to alleviate the problem over time.


Desertification indicators desertification risk assessment environmental sensitive areas to desertification stepwise multiple regression model 



We are thankful to all the organisations and institutes that have provided different datasets used in the present study. We are also thankful to NRSC/ISRO, Department of Space, Hyderabad, for funding the above project. Our sincere thanks go to all other scientists and administrative staff of the RRSC-W, NRSC/ISRO, Jodhpur, for their moral support during the course of this work.


  1. Adger W N, Benjaminsen T A, Brown K and Svarstad H 2000 Advancing a political ecology of global environmental discourse; Centre of Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment; University of East Anglia, London.Google Scholar
  2. Afifi A A and Gad A A 2011 Assessment and mapping areas affected by soil erosion and desertification in the north coastal part of Egypt; Int. J. Water Resour. Arid Environ. 1(2) 83–91, ISSN 2079-7079.Google Scholar
  3. Afifi A A, Gad A and Refat A 2010 Use of GIS and remote sensing for environmental sensitivity assessment of north coastal part, Egypt; J. Am. Sci. 6(11) 632–646.Google Scholar
  4. Agricultural University of Athens 2010a Description of indicators defined in the various study sites; DESIRE report series, Report Number 66;
  5. Agricultural University of Athens 2010b Comparative analysis of indicators existing in the study sites; DESIRE report series, Report Number 77;
  6. Agricultural University of Athens 2012 Using indicators for identifying best land management practices for combating desertification; DESIRE report series, Report Number 94;
  7. Ajai and Dhinwa P S 2018 Desertification and land degradation in Indian subcontinent: Issues, present status and future challenges; In: Climate variability impacts on land use and livelihoods in drylands (eds) Gaur M and Squires V, Springer, Cham, pp. 181–201, ISBN 978-3-319-56680-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ajai, Arya A S, Dhinwa P S, Pathan S K and Ganeshraj K 2009 Desertification/land degradation status mapping of India; Curr. Sci. 97(10) 1478–1483.Google Scholar
  9. Allen R G, Pereira L S, Raes D and Smith M 1998 Crop evapotranspiration: Guidelines for computing crop requirements; Irrigation and Drainage Paper No. 56, FAO, Rome, Italy.Google Scholar
  10. Bagnouls F and Gaussen H 1957 Les climats biologiques et leur classification; Ann. Geogr. 64(355) 193–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bahreini F and Pahlavanravi A 2013 Assess and mapping the environmental sensitivity to desertification (a case study in Boushehr Province, south-west Iran); Int. J. Agri. Crop. Sci. 5(18) 2172–2183.Google Scholar
  12. Basso F, Bove E, Dumontet S, Ferrara A, Pisante M, Quaranta G and Taberner M 2000 Evaluating environmental sensitivity at the basin scale through the use of geographic information systems and remotely sensed data: An example covering the Agri Basin (southern Italy); Catena 40 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bhattacharyya T, Sarkar D, Sehgal J L, Velaytham M, Gajbhiye K S, Nagar A P and Nimkhedkar S S 2009 Soil taxonomic database of India and the states (1:250,000 scale); NBSSLUP Publ. 143, National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, Nagpur, 266p.Google Scholar
  14. Census of India 2011 District Census handbook; Jodhpur, Village and Town Wise Primary Census Abstract, Directorate of Census Operations Rajasthan, Series-09, Part XII-B.Google Scholar
  15. Darwish T, Zdruli P, Saliba R, Awad M, Shaban A and Faour G 2012 Vulnerability to desertification in Lebanon based on geo-information and socioeconomic conditions; J. Environ. Sci. Eng. B1 851–864.Google Scholar
  16. Dasgupta A R, Mukund R and Gopalan A K S 2000 The national (natural) resources information system; Int. Arch. Photogramm. Remote Sens. XXXIII(Part B2) 131–138.Google Scholar
  17. Dasgupta A, Sastry K L N, Dhinwa P S, Rathore V S and Nathawat M S 2013 Identifying desertification risk areas using fuzzy membership and geospatial technique – A case study, Kota district, Rajasthan; J. Earth Syst. Sci. 122(4) 1107–1124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Di L 2003 Recent progress on remote sensing monitoring of desertification; Ann. Arid Zone 42 3.Google Scholar
  19. Dregne H 1983 Desertification of arid lands; Harwood Academic Publisher, London.Google Scholar
  20. Dregne H, Kassas M and Rozanov B 1991 A new assessment of the world status of desertification; Desertification Control Bull., UNEP 20 6–18.Google Scholar
  21. Dutta S and Chaudhuri G 2015 Evaluating environmental sensitivity of arid and semiarid regions in north-eastern Rajasthan, India; Geogr. Rev. 105(4) 441–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. FAO/UNEP 1984 Provisional methodology for assessment and mapping of desertification; FAO, Rome.Google Scholar
  23. Grainger A 2009 Development of a baseline survey for monitoring biophysical and socio-economic trends in desertification, land degradation and drought report; UN Convention to Combat Desertification, Bonn.Google Scholar
  24. Hadeel A S, Jabbar M T and Chen X 2010 Application of remote sensing and GIS in the study of environmental sensitivity to desertification: A case study in Basrah Province, southern part of Iraq; Appl. Geomat. 2 101–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hanan N P, Prince S D and Hiernaux P H Y 1991 Spectral modelling of multicomponent landscapes in the Sahel; Int. J. Remote Sens. 12 1243–1258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harris I, Jones P D, Osborn T J and Lister D H 2014 Updated high-resolution grids of monthly climatic observations – the CRU TS3.10 Dataset; Int. J. Climatol. 34 623–642, Scholar
  27. Imeson A C 1996 Desertification research-thematic issues and spatial and temporal scaling; In: The use of remote sensing for land degradation and desertification monitoring in the Mediterranean basin (eds) Hill J and Peter D, European Commission, Brussels.Google Scholar
  28. Jafari R and Bakhshandehmehr L 2013 Quantitative mapping and assessment of environmental sensitive areas to desertification in central Iran; Land Degrad. Dev. 27(2) 108–119, Scholar
  29. Joshi K N and Solanki S S 2009 Combating desertification strategies in Arid land of India; In: Advances in studies on desertification (eds) Diaz A R, Serrato F B, Sarria F A and Bermudez F L, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain, pp. 275–278, ISBN 978-84-8371-888-9.Google Scholar
  30. Kosmas C, Kirkby M and Geeson N 1999 Manual on: Key indicators of desertification and mapping environmentally sensitive areas to desertification; European Commission, Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, EUR 18882, 87p.Google Scholar
  31. Kosmas C et al. 2013 Evaluation and selection of indicators for land degradation and desertification monitoring: Methodological approach; Environ. Manage. 54(5) 971–982, Scholar
  32. Kundu A and Dutta D 2011 Monitoring desertification risk through climate change and human interference using remote sensing and GIS techniques; Int. J. Geomatics Geosci. 2(1) 21–33.Google Scholar
  33. LADA (Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands) 2011 Final draft, mapping land use systems at global and regional scales for land degradation assessment analysis 1.1.Google Scholar
  34. Le Bissonnais Y and Arrouays D 1997 Aggregate stability and assessment of soil crustability and erodibility: II. Application to humic loamy soils with various organic carbon contents; Eur. J. Soil Sci. 48 39–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Liang Z, Bing-Fang W U, Yue-Min Z, Ji-Hua M and Ning Z 2008 A study on fast estimation of vegetation fraction in three Gorges emigration area by using Spot5 imagery; Int. Arch. Photogramm., Remote Sens. Spat. Inf. Sci. XXXVII(Part B8) 987–992.Google Scholar
  36. Milne R M and Haynes R J 2004 Soil organic matter, microbial properties, and aggregate stability under annual and perennial pastures; Biol. Fert. Soils 39 172–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) 2001 Status of desertification, nation action programme to combat desertification, in the context of United Nations convention to combat desertification (UNCCD); Government of India, New Delhi, India, 1, pp. 1–27.Google Scholar
  38. Narain P, Kar A, Ram B, Joshi D C and Singh R S 2000 Wind erosion in western Rajasthan; Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, 17p.Google Scholar
  39. NCEP (National Centers for Environmental Prediction) 2012 Global weather data for SWAT; Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFRS),
  40. NRSA (National Remote Sensing Agency) 2007 Nation-wide mapping of land degradation using multi-temporal satellite data; Department of Space, Government of India, Hyderabad.Google Scholar
  41. NRSC (National Remote Sensing Centre) 2014 Evaluation of Indian National DEM (Version-2) from Cartosat-1 Data; ISRO, Department of Space, Government of India, Hyderabad,
  42. NRSC (National Remote Sensing Centre) 2015 National land use and land cover mapping using multi-temporal AWiFS data; Department of Space, Government of India, Hyderabad.Google Scholar
  43. Oldeman L R 1988 Guidelines for general assessment of the status of human-induced soil degradation; Working Paper 8814, ISRIC, Wageningen.Google Scholar
  44. Oldeman L R, Hakkeling R T A and Sombroek W G 1990 World map of the status of human-induced soil degradation, an explanatory note; ISRIC/UNEP, Wageningen.Google Scholar
  45. Pai D S, Latha S, Rajeevan M, Sreejith O P, Satbhai N S and Mukhopadhyay B 2014 Development of a new high spatial resolution (\(0.25^{\circ }\times 0.25^{\circ }\)) long period (1901–2010) daily gridded rainfall data set over India and its comparison with existing data sets over the region; Mausam 65(1) 1–18.Google Scholar
  46. Parvari S H, Pahlavanravi A, Moghaddam Nia A R, Dehvari A and Parvari D 2011 Application of methodology for mapping environmentally sensitive areas (ESAs) to desertification in dry bed of Hamoun wetland (Iran); Int. J. Nat. Resour. Marine Sci. 1(1) 65–80.Google Scholar
  47. Pender J, Ssewanyana S, Edward K and Nkonya E 2004 Linkages between Poverty and Land Management in Rural Uganda: Evidence from the Uganda National Household Survey, 1999/00; Environment and Production Technology Division Paper 122, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, USA,
  48. Pienaru A, Iancu P and Cazanescu S 2009 Desertification and its effect on environment agricultural production in Romania; Ann. Food Sci. Technol. 10(2) 624–629.Google Scholar
  49. Rubio J L and Bochet E 1998 Desertification indicators as diagnosis criteria for desertification risk assessment in Europe; J. Arid Environ. 39 113–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. SAC (Space Applications Centre) 2016 Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas of India (Based on IRS AWiFS data of 2011–13 and 2003–05), ISRO, Ahmedabad, India, ISBN: 978 -93-82760-20-7.Google Scholar
  51. Salvati L and Bajocco S 2011 Land sensitivity to desertification across Italy: Past, present, and future; Appl. Geogr. 31 223–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Salvati L, Zitti M and Ceccarelli T 2008 Integrating economic and ecological indicators in the assessment of desertification risk: Suggestions from a case study; Appl. Environ. Ecol. Res. 6 129–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sepehr A, Hassanli A M, Ekhtesasi M R and Jamali J B 2007 Quantitative assessment of desertification in south of Iran using MEDALUS method; Environ. Monit. Assess. 134(1–3) 243–254, Scholar
  54. Sharma K K and Mehra S P 2009 The Thar of Rajasthan (India): Ecology and conservation of a desert ecosystem; In: Faunal ecology and conservation of the Great Indian Desert (eds) Sivaperuman C, Baqri Q H, Ramaswamy G and Naseema M, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, Chapter 1.Google Scholar
  55. Singh R B and Ajai 2015 Early warning of desertification; In: Frontiers of earth science (eds) Shrivastava K L and Shrivastava P K, Scientific Publishers, India, pp. 325–333, ISBN: 978-81-7233-929-6.Google Scholar
  56. Sommer S, Zucca C, Grainger A, Cherlet M, Zougmore R, Sokona Y, Hill J, Della Peruta R, Roehrig J and Wang G 2011 Application of indicator system for monitoring and assessment of desertification from national to global scales; Land Degrad. Dev. 22 184–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. SRSAC (State Remote Sensing Application Centre) 2010 Soil Resource Atlas of Rajasthan, Department of Science and Technology, Government of Rajasthan, Jodhpur, 270p.Google Scholar
  58. Steel R, Torrie J and Dickey D 1997 Principles and procedures of statistics: A biometrical approach; WCB/McGraw-Hill, a Division of the McGraw-Hill Companies, 666p.Google Scholar
  59. The World Bank 1990 Poverty; World Development Report 1990, Oxford University Press;
  60. Tisdall J M and Oades J M 1982 Organic matter and water-stable aggregates in soils; J. Soil Sci. 33 141–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. UNCCD (United Nations Convention To Combat Desertification) 1994 Elaboration of an International Convention to combat desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa; U.N.Doc.A/AC/241/27, 33 I.L.M. 1328, United Nations.Google Scholar
  62. UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme) 1997 The World Atlas of Desertification (eds) Middleton N, Thomas D S G and Arnold E, Great Britain, ISBN: 0340691662.Google Scholar
  63. Vieira R M S P, Tomasella J, Alvala R C S, Sestini M F, Affonso A G, Rodriguez D A, Barbosa A A, Cunha A P M A, Valles G F, Crepani E, de Oliveira S B P, de Souza M S B, Calil P M, de Carvalho M A, Valeriano D M, Campello F C B and Santana M O 2015 Identifying areas susceptible to desertification in the Brazilian north-east; Solid Earth 6 347–360, Scholar
  64. Zucca C, Peruta R D, Salvia R, Sommer S and Cherlet M 2012 Towards world desertification atlas: Relating and selecting indicators and data set to represent complex issues; Ecol. Indic. 15 157–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Regional Remote Sensing Centre – WestNRSC/ISROJodhpurIndia
  2. 2.National Remote Sensing CentreISROHyderabadIndia

Personalised recommendations