Seventh Annual AMS Student Conference


ICESat estimates of forest canopy height loss for post-hurricane timber damage detection and assessment decision support

Jason Brent Jones, NASA DEVELOP Program, Stennis Space Center, MS; and L. M. Childs

Along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Seaboard, tropical storms and hurricanes annually cause defoliation and deforestation amongst coastal forests. Following a severe storm, there is an urgent need to assess the impact on timber growth so resources can be targeted to assist in recovery. It is also important to identify these damaged areas due to their increased risk of fire and susceptibility to invasive species. Current methods of detection involve assessment through ground-based field surveys, aerial surveys, computer modeling, space-borne remote sensing, and Forest Inventory and Analysis field plots. This project focuses on a need for methods that are at once more synoptic than field surveys and more closely linked to the phenomenology of tree loss and damage than passive remote sensing methods. The primary concentration is on the utilization of Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) data products to detect changes in forest canopy height as an indicator of post-hurricane forest disturbances. ICESat is a NASA spaceborne lidar mission that utilizes green and infrared light to determine land surface and vegetation vertical structure in 70m elliptical footprints. While created to primarily measure polar ice sheet mass and cloud property information, it has proven successful in measuring forest canopy height. By analyzing ICESat data over areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, this study demonstrates that ICESat may serve as a useful indicator of a storm's direct effects as well as its long term consequences.

Poster Session 1, Student Conference General Poster Session
Sunday, 20 January 2008, 5:30 PM-7:00 PM, Exhibit Hall B

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