Applying built-up and bare-soil indices from Landsat 8 to cities in dry climates

Arid and semi-arid regions have different spectral characteristics from other climatic regions. Therefore, appropriate remotely sensed indicators of land use and land cover types need to be defined for arid and semi-arid lands, as indices developed for other climatic regions may not give plausible results in arid and semi-arid regions. For instance, the normalized difference built-up index (NDBI) and normalized difference bareness index (NDBaI) are unable to distinguish between built-up areas and bare and dry soil that surrounds many cities in dry climates. This paper proposes the application of two newly developed indices, the dry built-up index (DBI) and dry bare-soil index (DBSI) to map built-up and bare areas in a dry climate from Landsat 8. The developed DBI and DBSI were applied to map urban areas and bare soil in the city of Erbil, Iraq. The results show an overall classification accuracy of 93% (κ = 0.86) and 92% (κ = 0.84) for DBI and DBSI, respectively. The results indicate the suitability of the proposed indices to discriminate between urban areas and bare soil in arid and semi-arid climates.