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Journal of Arid Land  2022, Vol. 14 Issue (3): 262-283    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-022-0011-2
Research article     
Spatiotemporal changes of eco-environmental quality based on remote sensing-based ecological index in the Hotan Oasis, Xinjiang
YAO Kaixuan1,2, Abudureheman HALIKE1,2,3,*(), CHEN Limei1,2, WEI Qianqian1,2
1College of Geographical Science, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830017, China
2Xinjiang Key Laboratory of Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830017, China
3Key Laboratory of Smart City and Environment Modelling of Higher Education Institute, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830017, China
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The rapid economic development that the Hotan Oasis in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China has undergone in recent years may face some challenges in its ecological environment. Therefore, an analysis of the spatiotemporal changes in ecological environment of the Hotan Oasis is important for its sustainable development. First, we constructed an improved remote sensing-based ecological index (RSEI) in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2020 on the Google Earth Engine (GEE) platform and implemented change detection for their spatial distribution. Second, we performed a spatial autocorrelation analysis on RSEI distribution map and used land-use and land-cover change (LUCC) data to analyze the reasons of RSEI changes. Finally, we investigated the applicability of improved RSEI to arid area. The results showed that mean of RSEI rose from 0.41 to 0.50, showing a slight upward trend. During the 30-a period, 2.66% of the regions improved significantly, 10.74% improved moderately and 32.21% improved slightly, respectively. The global Moran's I were 0.891, 0.889, 0.847 and 0.777 for 1990, 2000, 2010 and 2020, respectively, and the local indicators of spatial autocorrelation (LISA) distribution map showed that the high-high cluster was mainly distributed in the central part of the Hotan Oasis, and the low-low cluster was mainly distributed in the outer edge of the oasis. RSEI at the periphery of the oasis changes from low to high with time, with the fragmentation of RSEI distribution within the oasis increasing. Its distribution and changes are predominantly driven by anthropologic factors, including the expansion of artificial oasis into the desert, the replacement of desert ecosystems by farmland ecosystems, and the increase in the distribution of impervious surfaces. The improved RSEI can reflect the eco-environmental quality effectively of the oasis in arid area with relatively high applicability. The high efficiency exhibited with this approach makes it convenient for rapid, high frequency and macroscopic monitoring of eco-environmental quality in study area.

Key wordsremote sensing-based ecological index      Google Earth Engine      spatial autocorrelation analysis      eco-environmental quality      arid area     
Received: 25 October 2021      Published: 31 March 2022
Corresponding Authors: Abudureheman HALIKE     E-mail:
Cite this article:

YAO Kaixuan, Abudureheman HALIKE, CHEN Limei, WEI Qianqian. Spatiotemporal changes of eco-environmental quality based on remote sensing-based ecological index in the Hotan Oasis, Xinjiang. Journal of Arid Land, 2022, 14(3): 262-283.

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Fig. 1 Workflow of the study. GEE, Google Earth Engine; NDVI, normalized difference vegetation index; WET, wetness; BSI, bare soil index; SI, salinity index; PCA, principal component analysis; RSEI, remote sensing-based ecological index; LUCC, land-use and land-cover change.
Fig. 2 Location of the Hotan Oasis
Year Dataset Satellite Used band Number (scene) Year
Path /row Month/cloud/
spatial resolution
1990 LANDSAT/LT05/C02/
Landsat 5
SR_B (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7) ST_B6 4 1989/1990/1991 146/033 Jul-Aug
1995 14 1994/1995/1996 146/034 <20%
2000 LANDSAT/LE07/C02/ Landsat 7 SR_B (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 12 1999/2000/2001 146/035 30 m
2005 T1_L2 /ETM+ 7) ST_B6 19 2004/2005/2006 147/034
2010 LANDSAT/LT05/C02/
Landsat 5
SR_B (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7) ST_B6 13 2009/2010/2011 147/035
2015 LANDSAT/LC08/C02/ Landsat 8 SR_B (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 12 2014/2015/2016
2020 T1_L2 /OLI/TIRS 7) ST_B10 13 2019/2020/2021
Table 1 Basic information of Landsat data sources
PC1 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020
NDVI -0.48641 -0.48552 -0.49201 -0.48959 -0.49658 -0.49817 -0.50478
WET -0.47930 -0.47372 -0.47392 -0.46008 -0.48033 -0.47307 -0.47814
BSI 0.51779 0.52127 0.51721 0.52479 0.51152 0.51710 0.51375
SI 0.51534 0.51782 0.51557 0.52271 0.51092 0.51052 0.50263
Eigenvalue 0.09923 0.09809 0.09906 0.09599 0.10061 0.09903 0.10018
Percentage of eigenvalue (%) 89.63 88.67 89.59 86.94 91.52 90.60 91.59
Table 2 First principal component (PC1) of principal component analysis for RSEI in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2020
Year Indicator PC1 PC2 PC3 PC4
1990 NDVI -0.48641 0.66914 0.10060 0.55275
WET -0.47930 -0.70834 -0.20970 0.47387
BSI 0.51779 -0.17157 0.63423 0.54792
SI 0.51534 0.14517 -0.73733 0.41194
Eigenvalue 0.09923 0.00942 0.00186 0.00020
Percentage of eigenvalue (%) 89.63 8.51 1.68 0.18
2020 NDVI -0.50478 0.55881 -0.10010 0.65032
WET -0.47814 -0.80865 -0.17005 0.29755
BSI 0.51375 -0.18263 0.54236 0.63918
SI 0.50263 -0.02139 -0.81665 0.28283
Eigenvalue 0.10018 0.00625 0.00283 0.00012
Percentage of eigenvalues (%) 91.59 5.71 2.59 0.11
Table 3 Principal component (PC) analysis for 1990 and 2020
Fig. 3 Spatial distribution of multi-year mean RSEI (remote sensing-based ecological index) in the Hotan Oasis
Fig. 4 Spatial distribution of RSEI (remote sensing-based ecological index) level in the Hotan Oasis in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2020
Fig. 5 Percentage of different levels of RSEI (remote sensing-based ecological index) in the Hotan Oasis in 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2020
Year Index 3 (OI) 2 (GI) 1 (SI) 0 (IN) -1 (SD) -2 (GD) -3 (OD)
1990-2000 Area (km²) 0.88 36.59 547.22 3191.04 504.04 12.05 0.34
Percentage (%) 0.02 0.85 12.75 74.35 11.74 0.28 0.01
2000-2010 Area (km²) 6.79 147.91 1130.46 2641.94 355.40 9.47 0.18
Percentage (%) 0.16 3.45 26.34 61.55 8.28 0.22 0.00
2010-2020 Area (km²) 13.80 194.02 1087.26 2376.80 576.91 39.75 3.53
Percentage (%) 0.32 4.52 25.33 55.38 13.44 0.93 0.08
1990-2020 Area (km²) 114.35 460.84 1382.44 1764.33 506.54 58.32 4.23
Percentage (%) 2.66 10.74 32.21 41.11 11.80 1.36 0.10
Table 4 Area and percentage of RSEI level change during 1990-2000, 2000-2010, 2010-2020 and 1990-2020
Fig. 6 RSEI (remote sensing-based ecological index) level change during 1990-2000 (a), 2000-2010 (b), 2010-2020 (c) and 1990-2020 (d). OI, GI, SI, IN, SD, GD and OD represent that RSEI level of the area is obviously improved, generally improved, slightly improved, invariable, slightly deteriorated, generally deteriorated and obviously deteriorated, respectively. The number of 3-1, 0 and -1- -3 mean the improved, unchanged and deteriorated levels of RSEI, respectively.
Fig. 7 Global Moran's I scatterplot of RSEI (remote sensing-based ecological index) level change in the Hotan Oasis in 1990 (a), 2000 (b), 2010 (c) and 2020 (d). H-H, L-L, H-L and L-H are high-high cluster, low-low cluster, high-low outlier and low-high outlier, respectively.
Fig. 8 LISA (local indicators of spatial autocorrelation) clustering map of RSEI in the Hotan Oasis in 1990 (a), 2000 (b), 2010 (c) and 2020 (d)
Fig. 9 Spatial distribution map of LUCC (land-use and land-cover change) in the Hotan Oasis in 2000 and 2020 (a, b, c, d, e and f are the Google Earth images of six types of typical land surfaces. Boxes are the location of these land surfaces)
Fig. 10 Three-dimensional scatter plots of NDVI, WET and RSEI (a); and of BSI, SI and RSEI (b). NDVI, normalized difference vegetation index; WET, wetness; RSEI, remote sensing-based ecological index; BSI, bare soil index; SI, salinity index;
Fig. 11 Correlation matrix of each indicator and RSEI in 1990 (a) and 2020 (b). NDVI, normalized difference vegetation index; WET, wetness; BSI, bare soil index; SI, salinity index; RSEI, remote sensing-based ecological index.
Fig. 12 Comparison among indicators. a, b and c represent different sampling locations; 6 and 7 represents the standard false color image and true color image of Sentinel 2, respectively. NDVI, normalized difference vegetation index; WET, wetness; BSI, bare soil index; SI, salinity index; RSEI, remote sensing-based ecological index.
Year Total population (10,000 persons) Total power of
agricultural machinery (10,000 kW)
land area (1000 hm2)
Grain production (t) Gross
regional product (10,000 CNY)
Primary industry GRP (10,000 CNY) Secondary industry GRP (10,000 CNY) Tertiary industry GRP (10,000 CNY)
1992 90.10 17.50 81.84 387,358 81,029 50,761 11,648 18,620
1995 96.60 18.40 82.64 404,569 160,780 105,131 21,612 34,035
2000 110.00 23.00 91.17 509,114 178,411 101,566 22,614 54,231
2005 120.00 26.00 91.41 579,342 321,140 134,080 75,448 111,612
2010 135.00 33.00 97.11 674,272 696,522 210,118 141,565 344,839
2015 155.00 54.00 - - 1,612,653 403,842 266,778 942,033
2019 171.28 - 123.25 - 2,630,573 451,317 422,743 1,756,513
Table 5 Socio-economic data of the Hotan Oasis
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