Evaluation of MODIS spectral indices for monitoring hydrological dynamics of a small, seasonally-flooded wetland in southern Spain

Linlin Li*, Anton Vrieling, Andrew Skidmore, Tiejun Wang, Antonio-Román Muñoz, Eren Turak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Monitoring spatio-temporal dynamics of hydrology in seasonally-flooded wetlands is important for water management and biodiversity conservation. Spectral data and derived indices from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) have been used for hydrological monitoring of large wetlands. However, comparable studies for small wetlands (<25 km2) are lacking. Our aims are to examine whether MODIS-derived indices at 500-m spatial resolution can perform this task for small wetlands, and to compare the performance of various indices. First we evaluated if water levels are a good indicator for wetland inundation extent. A high correlation between water level and Landsat-derived inundation extent was found (R2 = 0.957). Secondly, we compared 10 years of water level fluctuations with seven spectral indices at a 16-day interval. The Tasseled Cap brightness index (TCBI) had the highest correlation with water level for the complete time series including dry and wet years. Thirdly, we analyzed how these indices behave for areas with different inundation characteristics. Again TCBI showed a consistently accurate performance, which was independent of inundation frequency. We therefore conclude that TCBI is the best-suited index for monitoring of hydrological variability in small seasonally-flooded wetlands such as the Fuente de Piedra lake in southern Spain. We recommend testing this index further for other seasonally-flooded wetlands in semi-arid areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-864
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2015. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Remote sensing
  • Hydrology
  • Time series
  • Wetland inundation
  • Mediterranean


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