As the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica and Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria in September 2017 had a large impact on the vegetation of these islands. In this paper, multitemporal Landsat 8 OLI and Sentinel-2 data are used to investigate vegetation damage on Dominica and Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria, and related influencing factors are analyzed. Moreover, the changes in the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) in the year 2017 are compared to reference years (2015 and 2016). The results show that (1) there is a sudden drop in NDVI values after Hurricane Maria’s landfall (decreased about 0.2) which returns to near normal vegetation after 1.5 months; (2) different land cover types have different sensitivities to Hurricane Maria, whereby forest is the most sensitive type, then followed by wetland, built-up, and natural grassland; and (3) for Puerto Rico, the vegetation damage is highly correlated with distance from the storm center and elevation. For Dominica, where the whole island is within Hurricane Maria’s radius of maximum wind, the vegetation damage has no obvious relationship to elevation or distance. The study provides insight into the sensitivity and recovery of vegetation after a major land-falling hurricane, and may lead to improved vegetation protection strategies.
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