Machine learning algorithm for estimating karst rocky desertification in a peak-cluster depression basin in southwest Guangxi, China

Scientific Reports volume 12, Article number: 19121 (2022) 


Karst rocky desertification (KRD) has become one of the most serious ecological and environmental problems in karst areas. At present, mapping KRD with a high accuracy and on a large scale is still a difficult problem in the control of KRD. In this study, a random forest (RF) based on maximum information coefficient and correlation coefficient feature selection is proposed to predict KRD. Nine predictors stood out as feature factors to estimate KRD. Rock exposure was the most important predictor, followed by fractional vegetation cover for the prediction of KRD processes. The kappa and classification accuracy indexes were to evaluate the performance of the model. We recorded overall accuracy rate and kappa index values of 94.7% and 0.92 for the testing datasets respectively. The RF model was then used to predict the KRD in 2001, 2011, 2016, and 2020, and it was found that the KRD in the study area has exhibited a positive trend of improvement. Therefore, the use of multisource remote sensing data combined with the RF model can obtain better prediction results of KRD, thereby providing a new idea for large-scale estimation of the KRD in peak-cluster depression.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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