Assessment of land use changes using remote sensing and GIS and their implications on climatic variability for Balachaur watershed in Punjab, India


1 Dept. of Agronomy and Agrometeorology, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India

2 Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Ludhiana,India



Decadal changes in land use/land cover for Balachaur watershed in Nawanshahar district, Punjab, India were studied using black and white aerial photographs for March 1984 on approximately 1:20,000 scale and multidate geocoded false colour composites (FCC) of IRS-1D LISS-III on 1:50,000 scale for March 2002, September 2002, and May 2003 and interpreted visually to prepare land use/land cover maps for the year 1984 and 2003. The results revealed that the area under crop land, moderately dense forest, degraded forest, degraded land in hills and piedmont plains, barren land along choes (seasonal streams) has decreased; whereas, the area under settlements, dense forest, plantations, industrial use, ponds, choes and brick kilns has increased over a span of 20 years. By virtue of afforestation and forest conservation, the density of vegetation in Siwalik hills and piedmont areas has increased. The area under moderately dense forest (1956.7 ha) and degraded forest (755.5 ha) got upgraded to dense forest while 755.5 ha of degraded forest changed to moderately dense forest. The impact of land use/land cover alterations on climatic variability at micro-level revealed that the linear trends computed for the 5-yearly moving average of maximum temperature showed an increasing trend from 1984 to 2003, whereas the minimum temperature, rainfall, and potential evapotranspiration showed a decreasing trend. Inspite of increasing forest cover in the study area, these trends in different meteorological parameters did not corroborate the findings of some earlier reports. Thus land use/ land cover changes over time may not be the only factor which causes variation in meteorological parameters. It implies that there might also be other factors such as CO2 concentration and its effect on green house gases, atmospheric pollution and spectral distribution of the incoming solar radiation, which affect climatic variability in a region.

Keywords: Land use change; Climatic variability; Remote sensing; Potential evapotranspiration