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Article

Variations in Persistence and Regenerative Zones in Coastal Forests Triggered by Sea Level Rise and Storms

Department of Earth and Environment, Boston University, Boston, MA 02445, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(17), 2019; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11172019
Received: 7 August 2019 / Accepted: 23 August 2019 / Published: 28 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Estuarine, Lagoon and Delta Environments)
Retreat of coastal forests in relation to sea level rise has been widely documented. Recent work indicates that coastal forests on the Delmarva Peninsula, United States, can be differentiated into persistence and regenerative zones as a function of sea-level rise and storm events. In the lower persistence zone trees cannot regenerate because of frequent flooding and high soil salinity. This study aims to verify the existence of these zones using spectral remote sensing data, and determine whether the effect of large storm events that cause damage to these forests can be detected from satellite images. Spectral analysis confirms a significant difference in average Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) values in the proposed persistence and regenerative zones. Both NDVI and NDWI indexes decrease after storms triggering a surge above 1.3 m with respect to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88). NDWI values decrease more, suggesting that this index is better suited to detect the effect of hurricanes on coastal forests. In the regenerative zone, both NDVI and NDWI values recover three years after a storm, while in the persistence zone the NDVI and NDWI values keep decreasing, possibly due to sea level rise causing vegetation stress. As a result, the forest resilience to storms in the persistence zone is lower than in the regenerative zone. Our findings corroborate the ecological ratchet model of coastal forest disturbance. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecological ratchet; persistence niche; regenerative niche; salt marsh expansion; sea level rise; storm surges; hurricanes; coastal forest; NDVI; NDWI ecological ratchet; persistence niche; regenerative niche; salt marsh expansion; sea level rise; storm surges; hurricanes; coastal forest; NDVI; NDWI
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MDPI and ACS Style

Fagherazzi, S.; Nordio, G.; Munz, K.; Catucci, D.; Kearney, W.S. Variations in Persistence and Regenerative Zones in Coastal Forests Triggered by Sea Level Rise and Storms. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 2019. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11172019

AMA Style

Fagherazzi S, Nordio G, Munz K, Catucci D, Kearney WS. Variations in Persistence and Regenerative Zones in Coastal Forests Triggered by Sea Level Rise and Storms. Remote Sensing. 2019; 11(17):2019. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11172019

Chicago/Turabian Style

Fagherazzi, Sergio, Giovanna Nordio, Keila Munz, Daniele Catucci, and William S. Kearney. 2019. "Variations in Persistence and Regenerative Zones in Coastal Forests Triggered by Sea Level Rise and Storms" Remote Sensing 11, no. 17: 2019. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11172019

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