Remotely sensed desertification modeling using ensemble of machine learning algorithms

Abdalhossein Boali, Hamid Reza Asgari*, Ali Mohammadian Behbahani, Abdolrassoul Salmanmahiny, Babak Naimi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Due to having a sensitive and fragile ecosystem, dry areas are constantly exposed to land degradation and desertification. Therefore, it is necessary to formulate appropriate strategies for quantitative assessment of desertification that are highly accurate. In this research, desertification of the region was first evaluated using MEDALUS model, then according to the results of MEDALUS model and reviewing the results of other researchers, 8 indicators remote sensing that had the highest correlation with field data were selected for modeling. Four machine learning methods Support Vector Machine (SVM), Gradient Boosting Machine (GBM), Generalized Linear Models (GLM) and Random Forests (RF) were used to model the risk of desertification in northeastern Iran. Finally, the weighted average of the ensemble model in the SDM statistical package was used to predict the desertification of the region. Based on the results obtained from MEDALUS model, the indicators of drought resistance (score 162), conservation operations (score 158) and soil salinity (score 155), in the working units of abandoned lands, wetland lands, and Salty lands located in the north East of the region, have increased the process of desertification. The results of modeling using machine learning methods showed that in 2002, the SVM model (AUC = 0.91, TSS = 0.93, and Kappa = 0.86) and in 2021, the RF model (AUC = 0.94, TSS = 0.94, and Kappa = 0.90) have performed best. The forecast of the combined model for desertification in 2021 in the studied area showed that the northeastern and sporadically in the central parts of the studied area are affected by the progress of the desertification process. Therefore, by considering the results of the combined model (as a model with the least uncertainty), it is possible to reduce the progress of the desertification process by planning, optimal management and applying corrective methods in the areas affected by desertification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101149
JournalRemote Sensing Applications: Society and Environment
Early online date13 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Desertification maps
  • Machine learning methods
  • Modeling
  • Remote sensing


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