Quantitative Mapping of Desertification Risk Using the Modified MEDALUS Model: A Case Study in The Mazayejan Plain, Southwest IRAN
This paper presents the Modified MEDALUS (MMEDALUS) approach, a quantitative assessment of desertification, in the case study area located in the Southern part of Iran. Six main factors of desertification including: soil, climate, plant cover, management, erosion state and ground water situation were considered for the model approach. Then several sub-factors determining the quality of each main factor were quantified according to their quality and weighted on a scale between 1.0 and 2.0. We used a Geographic Information System (GIS) software to analyze and prepare the spatial distribution of the factor layers. Subsequently, the final desertification hazard map was prepared by combining the different MEDALUS factors in Arc GIS 10.3 in order to define the final hazard classes on the basis of hazard scores based on the geometric mean of the main factors. The MEDALUS and MMEDALUS models show the "Desertification Potential" that in turn was validated with the current state of desertification observed in the field. The results show that the applied MMEDALUS approach yield significantly better results than the MEDALUS model in the study area. The results also show that the areas under severe and very severe hazard are the most extensive classes in the desertification map. Thus, we illustrate that most of the study area is sensitive to desertification. However, we highlight that management, climate and water table qualities were the most important indicators affecting the desertification processes, while soil quality seems to play a minor role in our study area.