Trajectory analysis of land use and land cover maps to improve spatial–temporal patterns, and impact assessment on groundwater recharge

Z Zomlot, B Verbeiren, M Huysmans, O Batelaan

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    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Land use/land cover (LULC) change is a consequence of human-induced global environmental change. It is also considered one of the major factors affecting groundwater recharge. Uncertainties and inconsistencies in LULC maps are one of the difficulties that LULC timeseries analysis face and which have a significant effect on hydrological impact analysis. Therefore, an accuracy assessment approach of LULC timeseries is needed for a more reliable hydrological analysis and prediction. The objective of this paper is to assess the impact of land use uncertainty and to improve the accuracy of a timeseries of CORINE (coordination of information on the environment) land cover maps by using a new approach of identifying spatial–temporal LULC change trajectories as a pre-processing tool. This ensures consistency of model input when dealing with land-use dynamics and as such improves the accuracy of land use maps and consequently groundwater recharge estimation. As a case study the impact of consistent land use changes from 1990 until 2013 on groundwater recharge for the Flanders-Brussels region is assessed. The change trajectory analysis successfully assigned a rational trajectory to 99% of all pixels. The methodology is shown to be powerful in correcting interpretation inconsistencies and overestimation errors in CORINE land cover maps. The overall kappa (cell-by-cell map comparison) improved from 0.6 to 0.8 and from 0.2 to 0.7 for forest and pasture land use classes respectively. The study shows that the inconsistencies in the land use maps introduce uncertainty in groundwater recharge estimation in a range of 10–30%. The analysis showed that during the period of 1990–2013 the LULC changes were mainly driven by urban expansion. The results show that the resolution at which the spatial analysis is performed is important; the recharge differences using original and corrected CORINE land cover maps increase considerably with increasing spatial resolution. This study indicates that improving consistency of land use map timeseries is of critical importance for assessing land use change and its environmental impact.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)558-569
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Hydrology
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


    • Groundwater recharge
    • Land use accuracy
    • Land use uncertainty
    • LULC
    • Trajectory analysis


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