Date of Award

5-1-2010

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Wang, Guangxing

Abstract

The United States Army land managers are facing a difficult task of balancing environmental quality and military land carrying capacity when planning missions. The increase in soil erosion and landscape fragmentation caused by intensive military training degrades environmental quality and restricts military missions simultaneously. So far, no effective tools can be applied to quantitatively assess the environmental quality of military training facilities. This study aims at overcoming the existing gaps in land management of the U.S. Army installations. In this study, spatial metrics were selected and used to quantify landscape quality and further their correlations with landscape aesthetics indicators were investigated to seek surrogates of the immeasurable indicators. The spatial metrics were then combined with other environmental variables including soil erosion, water quality, and noise to create an integrated indicator that comprehensively measures environmental quality for the U.S. Army installations using spatial multi-criteria decision analysis. The methodology proposed in this study was tested at Fort Riley Installation, Kansas. The obtained important results included i) Landsat Thematic Mapper TM imagery was better at identifying land cover categories than India Remote Sensing Imagery and their Brovey transformations and Principal Component Analysis (PCA); ii) Too fine of a spatial resolution of imagery led to a great number of small patches and degraded the accuracy of landscape segmentation; iii) both landscape shape index (LSI) and Aggregation Index (AI) had statistically significant correlation with military training intensity and quantified the landscape fragmentation well along with both LSI and AI had a significant negative correlation; iv) there were moderate correlations of LSI and AI with landscape complexity and Interspersion and Juxtaposition index (IJI) with disturbance; v) the landscape level environmental quality indicator obtained comprehensively and well quantified the overall environmental health and its dynamics, while the patch level indicator detailed the local environmental quality. The significant contributions made in this study included i) exploring the relationships of landscape aesthetic evaluations with spatial metrics variables and further incorporating the spatial metrics as surrogates of the landscape aesthetic evaluations into derivation of comprehensive environmental quality indicator; and ii) developing a practical method to integrate the individual factors into a comprehensive environmental quality indicator at both landscape and patch levels based on sustainable environmental health and military land carrying capacity. Without doubt, this study can provide effective tools for the Army land managers to accurately assess environmental quality and effectively plan military training on the installations. It is also expected this methodology can be applied to management of other lands such as agricultural, forested, and industrial lands, etc.

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