Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Zhi-Yong Yin - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Knapp

Third Advisor

Dr. Truman Hartshorn


Land cover change detection in urban areas provides valuable data on loss of forest and agricultural land to residential and commercial development. Using Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (1991) and Landsat 7 ETM+ (2000) imagery of Gwinnett County, GA, change images were obtained using image differencing of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), principal components analysis (PCA), and Tasseled Cap-transformed images. Ground truthing and accuracy assessment determined that land cover change detection using the NDVI and Tasseled Cap image transformation methods performed best in the study area, while PCA performed the worst of the three methods assessed. Analyses on vegetative and vegetation changes from 1991- 2000 revealed that these methods perform well for detecting changes in vegetation and/or vegetative characteristics but do not always correspond with changes in land use. Gwinnett County lost an estimated 13,500 hectares of vegetation cover during the study period to urban sprawl, with the majority of the loss coming from forested areas.


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Anthropology Commons