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Stellenbosch University (2022)

Using remote sensing and geographical information systems to classify local landforms using a pattern recognition approach for improved soil mapping

Atkinson, Jonathan Tom

Titre : Using remote sensing and geographical information systems to classify local landforms using a pattern recognition approach for improved soil mapping

Auteur : Atkinson, Jonathan Tom

Université de soutenance : Stellenbosch University

Grade : PhDAgric 2022

Résumé partiel
Presently, a major focus of digital soil mapping (DSM) in South Africa is unlocking the soil-landscape relationships of legacy soil data by disaggregating the only source of contiguous soil information for South Africa, the National Land Type Survey (LTS) (ARC, 2003). Each land type is best defined as a homogenous mapping unit with a unique combination of terrain type, soil pattern and macroclimate properties (Paterson et al., 2015). One of the prevailing reasons for the LTS longevity and continual temporal-interoperability is that terrain description is expressly related to a suite of catenary soil property descriptions (Milne, 1936). These terrain types are further divided into terrain morphological units (TMUs) representing a sequence of patterns based on a 5-unit landscape model of 1-crest, 2-scarp, 3-midslope, 4-footslope and 5-valley bottom. Importantly, dominant soil distribution patterns are defined by terrain units relying on an elementary terrain topo-sequence pattern approach, with much of the work done on modelling soil variation related to variation in terrain (van Zijl, 2019). Whilst the LTS remains a source of national interest, there is immense opportunity to build on the existing soil inventory data rather than only focus on “breaking it down” (disaggregation). However, what is needed is a standard operating procedure that not only leverages the ability of digital elevation models (DEM) to explicate soil-landscape associations beyond the limited 5-unit landscape model but allows better refinement of soil descriptions with landscape features. Only once the nuances of optimal DEM parametrisation under controlled conditions are fully understood can the complete scope of DSM and digital geomorphological mapping (DGM) applications be explored. This dissertation attempts to synthesise knowledge on theory, methods, and applications of using remote sensing (RS) and geographical information systems (GIS) to classify local landforms using a pattern recognition approach for improved soil mapping in the context of multiscale problems of digital terrain analysis in KwaZulu-Natal. The dissertation is divided into three parts. Part one (Chapter 2) represents the DEM pre- processing and generalisation method and establishes the protocols for soil-landscape covariate application derived from various sensor platforms and spatial scales. Part two (Chapter 3) introduces the concept of improved terrain unit mapping through the geomorphon approach and describes DEM optimisation for standardised geomorphon representation for uniformly describing soil-landscape properties for inputs to DSM applications. Finally, part three (Chapters 4 & 5) looks at applications of DEM sources and geomorphons first from a holistic landscape context by linking digital terrain and soil-landscape analysis to geodiversity

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