Assessing Coastal Land Cover Changes after the 2004 Tsunami Using Remote Sensing and GIS Approaches



Land cover change analysis can be applied in order to understand the impacts of natural disasters. These results are critical for addressing future planning needs. This study assessed long-term land cover changes at Khao Lak, Thailand, which were severely affected by the 2004 tsunami, by applying Geographic Information System analyses, including change detection using remotely sensed imagery. Results revealed that urban areas were highly impacted by the tsunami, decreasing considerably moving landwards, with an 85 % change recorded at 225 m from shoreline, whereas vegetated areas showed relatively little change 1 km from shore. The period after the tsunami (2005 - 2008) showed considerable change: water bodies were reduced by 42 %, mainly turned into barren land, at 26.2 %, with a lesser amount changed into urban areas, 0.1 %, at 75 m from shore. Five years later (2008 - 2013), barren land areas had gradually increased to 44 %, while water bodies declined by 53 % at 75 m inland. Additionally, urban areas had increased up to 1 km landwards. Land cover changes varied between land cover types and their distances from shoreline or coastal proximity. Findings should prove valuable for understanding coastal hazard impacts in relation to land cover types, and also guide planning policy, such as setting a minimum distance from the shore for urban development.


Tsunami, land cover, change detection, setback line, remote sensing

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