American Journal of Water Resources
ISSN (Print): 2333-4797 ISSN (Online): 2333-4819 Website: Editor-in-chief: Apply for this position
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Water Resources. 2013, 1(3), 45-50
DOI: 10.12691/ajwr-1-3-5
Open AccessArticle

Remote Sensing Based Unravelling of Landcover and Groundwater Scenarios Relationships for the Middle Save Sub Catchment of South Eastern Zimbabwe

David Chikodzi1,

1School of Natural Science, Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo

Pub. Date: November 06, 2013

Cite this paper:
David Chikodzi. Remote Sensing Based Unravelling of Landcover and Groundwater Scenarios Relationships for the Middle Save Sub Catchment of South Eastern Zimbabwe. American Journal of Water Resources. 2013; 1(3):45-50. doi: 10.12691/ajwr-1-3-5


The impact of landcover/landuse type on the groundwater scenarios has not been investigated extensively in Zimbabwe due to lack of groundwater observation data. The research was aimed at using remote sensing to unravel the groundwater scenarios under different landcover/landuse types in the middle Save catchment of Zimbabwe. The research used the gravity recovery and climate experiment (GRACE) satellite to measure regional groundwater fluctuations from 2004-2010. Landsat satellite images were also used to classify the study area into three landcover/landuse types: grasslands, forests and shrublands. The results showed that grasslands occupy 59% of the land area, forests occupy 22% of the place and shrublands cover19% of the study area. On seasonal groundwater scenarios, areas under forests had the highest magnitude of groundwater recharge (up to 20cm) and also the highest levels of groundwater lose (up to -20cm). Shrublands had recharge levels of up 13cm and loses of about -14cm. Grasslands had the least recharge of about 6cm at peak and the lowest magnitude of groundwater loses of about -7cm. The research also showed that from 2004- 2010 groundwater levels have been in a state of decline in the study area. The research concluded that landcover/landuse affects only seasonal not year on groundwater fluctuations. Geographical information systems and remote sensing were shown to be capable of producing groundwater scenarios of the study area in the absence of systematic ground based groundwater observations.

Grace satellite remote sensing middle Save groundwater scenarios

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


Figure of 4


[1]  Foster S D and Chilton P J. Groundwater: the processes and global significance of aquifer degradation Phil. Trans. R. Soc.B 258 1957-72. 2003.
[2]  Shah, T., D. Molden, R. Sakthivadivel, and D. Seckler .The global groundwater situation: Overview and opportunities and challenges, Int.Water Manage. Inst., Colombo, Sri Lanka. 2000.
[3]  Anayah F. and Kaluarachchi, J.J. Groundwater resources of northern Ghana: Initial assessment of data availability. Utah State University College of Engineering Report, December 2009.
[4]  Calder I.R .Hydrologic effects of land-use change. In: Maidment DR (ed.) Handbook of Hydrology. McGraw-Hill, New York.1993. 13.1-13.50.
[5]  Dobson A.P., A.D. Bradshaw en A.J.M. Baker.Hopes for the future: Restoration ecology and conservation biology. Science (277), 25 July 1997: 515-522.
[6]  Gautam A.P, Webb E.L, Shivakoti G.P and Zoebisch M.A .Land use dynamics and landscape change pattern in a mountain watershed in Nepal. Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. 99 83-96. 2003.
[7]  Kachhwala T.S. Temporal monitoring of forest land for change detection and forest cover mapping through satellite remote sensing. Proc. 6th Asian Conf. on Remote Sensing, 21-26 November 1985, Hyderabad. 77-83.
[8]  Rogan J and Chen D.M. Remote sensing technology for mapping and monitoring land-cover and land-use change. Prog. Plann. 61 301-325. 2004.
[9]  Yuan, F, Sawaya K.E, Loeffelholz B.C and Bauer M.E. Land cover classification and change analysis of the Twin Cities (Minnesota) metropolitan area by multitemporal Landsat remote sensing. Remote Sens. Environ. 98 317-328. 2005.
[10]  Rodell, M., J. Chen, H. Kato, J. S. Famiglietti, J. Nigro, and C. R. Wilson. Estimating GW storage changes in the Mississippi River basin (USA) using GRACE, Hydrogeol. J., 15(1), 159-166, 2006.
[11]  Dong Y, Forster B and Ticehurst C. Radar backscatter analysis for urban environments. Int. J. Remote Sens. 18 (6) 1351-1364. 1997.
[12]  Star J.L, Estes J.E and McGwire K.C. Integration of Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing. Cambridge University Press, New York.1997.
[13]  Chilar J. Land cover mapping of large areas from satellites: status and research priorities. Int. J. Remote Sens. 21 (67) 1093-1114. 2000.
[14]  Bosch, J.M. and Hewlett, J.D. A review of catchment experiments to determine the effect of vegetation changes on water yield and evapotranspiration. Journal of Hydrology, 55: 3-23. 1982.
[15]  Brown A.E, Zhang L, McMahon T.A, Western A.W and Vertessy R.A. A review of paired catchment studies for determining changes in water yield resulting from alterations in vegetation. J. Hydrol. 310 28-61. 2005.
[16]  Rodriguez-Iturbe, I. Ecohydrology: a hydrologic perspective of climate-soil-vegetation dynamics. Water Resour. Res. 36 (1), 3-9. 2000.
[17]  Laio, F., Porporato, A., Fenandeq-Illescas, C.P., Rodriguez-Iturbe, I.Plants in water-controlled ecosystems: active role in hydrologic and response to water stress IV. Discussions of real cases. Adv. Water Resour. 24 (7), 745-762. 2001.
[18]  Guswa, A.J., Celia, M.A., Rodrigues-Iturbe, I. Models of soil moisture dynamics in ecohydrology: a comparative study.Water Resour. Res. 38 (9), 1166, 2002.
[19]  ITC. ILWIS user manual. International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences (ITC), Enschede, The Netherlands. 2005.
[20]  NASA. Grace Satellite Data, 2012.
[21]  Tapley, B. D., S. Bettadpur, J. C. Ries, P. F. Thompson, and M. M. Watkins. GRACE measurements of mass variability in the Earth system, Science, 305(5683), 503-505, 2004.
[22]  Strassberg G, Scanlon BR and Rodell M.‘Comparison of seasonal terrestrial water storage variations from GRACE with groundwater-level measurements from the High Plains Aquifer (USA)’, Geophysical Research Letters 34:L14402, 2007.
[23]  Syed, T. H., J. S. Famiglietti, J. Chen, M. Rodell, S. I. Seneviratne, P. Viterbo, and C. R.Wilson. Total basin discharge for the Amazon and Mississippi River basins from GRACE and a land-atmosphere water balance, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L24404, 2005.
[24]  Rodell, M. and J. S. Famiglietti. The Potential for Satellite-Based Monitoring of Groundwater Storage Changes Using GRACE: The High Plains Aquifer, Central U. S., J. Hydrol., 263, 245-256. 2002.
[25]  Wahr, J., S. Swenson, V. Zlotnicki, and I. Velicogna. Time-variable gravity from GRACE: First results, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L11501, 2004.
[26]  Swenson, S., J. Famiglietti, J. Basara, and J. Wahr. Estimating profile soil moisture and groundwater variations using GRACE and Oklahoma Mesonet soil moisture data, Water Resour. Res., 44, W01413, 2008.
[27]  Rodriguez-Iturbe, I., D’Odorico, P., Porporato, A., Ridolfi, L. On the spatial and temporal links between vegetation,climate, and soil moisture. Water Resour. Res. 35 (12), 3709-3722.1999.
[28]  Campbell, B., du Toit, R. and Attwell. C. Relationship between the environment and basic needs and satisfaction in the Save Catchment. University of Zimbabwe, Harare, 1988. pp119.
[29]  Elwell, H.A. The degrading soil and water resources of the communal areas. The Zimbabwe Sciences News, 17(9/10): 145-147. 1983.
[30]  Scoones, I. Land degradation and livestock production in Zimbabwe’s Communal areas. Land degradation and rehabilitation, 3 99-113. 1992.
[31]  Whitlow, J.R. An assessment of cultivated lands in Zimbabwe Rhodesia, 1963-1977. The Zimbabwe Science News, 13(12): 286-290. 1979.
[32]  Butterworth, J.A. The hydrology of a dryland catchment in southern Zimbabwe and the effects of climatic and land use change on shallow groundwater resources. PhD thesis, Department of Soil Science, University of Reading. 1997.
[33]  Lovell, C. Productive water points: Guidelines on integrated planning for rural water supply, ITDG Publishing.2000.
[34]  Butterworth, J. A., Macdonald, D. M. J., Bromley, J., Simmonds, L. P., Lovell, C. J., and Mugabe, F. Hydrological processes and water resources management in a dryland environment III: Groundwater recharge and recession in a shallow weathered aquifer, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 3, 345-351, 1999.