To best conserve wetlands and manage associated ecosystem services in the face of climate and land-use change, wetlands must be routinely monitored to assess their extent and function. Wetland extent and function are largely driven by spatial and temporal patterns in inundation and soil moisture, which to date have been challenging to map, especially within forested wetlands. The objective of this paper is to investigate the different, but often interacting effects, of evergreen vegetation and inundation on leaf-off bare earth return lidar intensity within mixed deciduous-evergreen forests in the Coastal Plain of Maryland, and to develop an inundation mapping approach that is robust in areas of varying levels of evergreen influence. This was achieved through statistical comparison of field derived metrics, and development of a simple yet robust normalization process, based on first of many, and bare earth lidar intensity returns. Results demonstrate the confounding influence of forest canopy gap fraction and inundation, and the effectiveness of the normalization process. After normalization, inundated deciduous forest could be distinguished from non-inundated evergreen forest. Inundation was mapped with an overall accuracy between 99.4% and 100%. Inundation maps created using this approach provide insights into physical processes in support of environmental decision-making, and a vital link between fine-scale physical conditions and moderate resolution satellite imagery through enhanced calibration and validation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited