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Wednesday, April 11 • 10:45am - 11:00am
SYMPOSIA-13: Cross-seasonal Assessments of Appalachian Forest Compositional Response After Fire Using Sentinel 2 Imagery

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

ABSTRACT: In deciduous forests, remote sensing-based assessments of fire impacts are often confounded by the seasonal flux of land surface phenology (LSP). In the Southern Appalachians, USA, fires burn primarily in late winter/early spring and during or immediately after leaf abscission in the fall. This timing can make it challenging to recognize fire impacts apart from ongoing phenological transitions, particularly in cloudy regions where clear imagery is infrequent. More fundamentally, wildfire impacts, like those of low intensity prescribed fire, are often structurally isolated to just the understory, leaving overstories immeasurably affected. While such structurally selective impacts can have huge implications for wildlife and fuels management, the independent phenological detectability of these elements is routinely ignored. In this research, we use 10m seasonal maximum NDVI composites in both the growing season and winter to isolate deciduous and evergreen impacts separately for numerous fall 2016 wildfires that burned NC, SC, GA and TN. We then compare differences in season-specific impacts across topographic gradients. Results show greater winter than summer impacts, but spatial coherencies are consistent with fire behavior and impacts observed in the field. Insights suggest the value and need for formal incorporation of LSP into wildfire and forest monitoring and a reappraisal of how we conceptualize fire severity in this widespread forest type.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 10:45am - 11:00am CDT
Water Tower Parlor