South Carolina Wetlands: Detecting change using NASA Earth Observations

False color imagery of the South Carolina coast. Image Credit: DEVELOP

Image Credit: DEVELOP

Authors: Katelyn Salem, Rebecca Frye, Ralph Evans

Mentors/Advisers (affiliation): Dr. Jeffrey Luvall (Global Hydrology and Climate Center)

Team Location: Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

Abstract: The concerns of wetland regulation and conservation are significant in South Carolina, which has one of the largest ranges of wetlands in the Southeast. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and other federal and regional agencies provide regulations but do not actively monitor loss. Research was performed to aid in the analysis of wetland standings with loss and gain data for the partner agencies. This project combined Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI), Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), and Normalized Different Soil Index (NDSI) to form a product to aid in wetland identification. Land cover categories and major bodies of water were created over Landsat data from 2011 for Charleston and Bulls Island and from 1989 for Charleston before and after Hurricane Hugo. Change detections between the earliest available data for each study area and recent 2011 data were generated to determine the wetland gain and loss for each area. This project resulted in wetland gain and loss data for the aid of wetland regulation in South Carolina.