Characterization and Modeling of Florida’s Indian River Lagoon Mangrove Extent

Satellite imagery of Florida. Image Credit: DEVELOP

Image Credit: DEVELOP

Authors: Katrina Laygo, Melissa Oguamanam, Brock Blevins, Kristofer D. Lasko, Melanie Rosenberg

Mentors/Advisers (affiliation): Dr. Temilola Fatoyinbo (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Frederick Policelli (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Dr. Ana Prados (University of Maryland)

Team Location: Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

Abstract: Mangrove forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services that are beneficial to society: as habitat for diverse marine species, flood protection, shoreline stability from erosion, and carbon storage. Overall, mangrove forest ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to changes in temperature, rainfall, sea level, and salinity. Globally, more than 25 percent of mangroves have been destroyed. However, certain mangrove ecosystem communities are able to survive fluctuations in climate and land use. In particular, mangrove forests in the Southeastern United States are expanding as suitable niches begin to move inland and northward. There is a need to better understand the impacts of climate change and human disturbance on mangrove migration. In an effort to improve interagency mangrove management practices, the team characterized the extent of mangrove migration in the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. Remotely sensed classifications of mangroves and herbaceous vegetation such as marshes were compared while partnering with the USGS National Wetlands Research Center and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). Depicting mangrove evolution and extent into salt marsh ecosystems, the classifications and a Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) were created through optical Landsat TM satellite imagery, hyperspectral Hyperion data, and Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS)/ Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) data. After performing image analyses and classification accuracy assessments, the results of the mangrove classification at the hyperspectral level revealed valuable insights into the distribution, extent, and temporal magnitude of mangrove expansion in the Indian River Lagoon as well as its impact on salt marsh ecosystems. Findings from this project contributed to current National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wetland assessments and could be incorporated into U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mangrove health assessment procedures.