Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2017, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (4): 420-438.doi: 10.1007/s11442-017-1385-5

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Assessing the progress of desertification of the southern edge of Chihuahuan Desert:A case study of San Luis Potosi Plateau

Cristina NOYOLA-MEDRANO1(), Valeria Abigaíl MARTÍNEZ-SÍAS2   

  1. 1. Facultad de Ingeniería / Area Civil / Geoinformática /Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, Manuel Nava # 8, Zona Universitaria Poniente, 78290, San Luis Potosí, SLP, Mexico
    2. Colegio de Posgraduados / Campus San Luis Potosí. Iturbide 73, Salinas de Hidalgo, SLP, Mexico
  • Received:2016-03-18 Accepted:2016-05-17 Online:2017-04-20 Published:2017-04-20
  • About author:

    Author: Cristina Noyola-Medrano (1970-), specialized in natural resource and environmental remote sensing. E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    Program for Professional Development of Professors (PRODEP) through the convention PROMEP/103.5/ 13/6575


The aim of this study is to establish if the San Luis Potosi Plateau (SLPP), which is part of the southern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, is generating desertification processes, indicating a progression of the desert toward the central part of Mexico. Therefore, we analyzed the temporal evolution of four environmental indicators of desertification: Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI), Iron Oxides Index (IO) and Surface Temperature (ST). Landsat TM images are used to cover a period from 1990 to 2011. A new equation of total balance is proposed to generate an image of the overall evolution of each factor which is applied to get a probability map of desertification. The evolution of NDVI, NDWI and IO shows a behavior almost stable over the time. In contrast, the ST shows a slight increase. The outcomes of this study confirm periods of vegetation re-greening and 8.80% of the SLPP has the highest probability to develop desertification. The most affected area is the portion west of the region, and the east and south are the least affected areas. The results suggest a slight advance of the desert, although most of the area doesn’t have the necessary conditions to develop desertification.

Key words: Landsat, NDVI-NDWI, ST-IO, desertification, re-greening vegetation