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Monday, April 9 • 5:30pm - 7:00pm
POSTER: Hurricane Impacts to Puerto Rico’s Forests: The Importance of Topography and Chance

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AUTHORS: Steve Norman, William Christie, William Hargrove – US Forest Service

ABSTRACT: Predictions of increased tropical hurricane intensity suggest that Caribbean forests may be increasingly vulnerable to disturbance. This hazard was demonstrated on September 20, 2017 when Hurricane Maria passed over Puerto Rico causing massive forest damage, yet our understanding of these impacts is limited by frequent cloud cover and seasonal phenological change that make remotely-sensed impact assessments difficult. This research uses Google Earth Engine’s computational abilities to document the island’s historical land surface phenology using MODIS at 250m, then vegetation impacts from Hurricane Maria using seasonally-appropriate maximum value compositing of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) at 10m using Sentinel 2. We then compare regional forest impacts in light of the chance alignment of the storm and local topographic exposure and potential wind refugia. This cross-scale approach provides insights into the different mechanisms that cause patterns of impacts, with potential implications for the long-term resilience of Puerto Rico’s forests.

Monday April 9, 2018 5:30pm - 7:00pm CDT
Monroe Room

Attendees (4)