Defoliation Across the Nation: Using VIIRS Data to Monitor Forest Health

Project Team: U.S. Disasters Team
Team Location: NASA Stennis Space Center, Hancock County, Mississippi

Percent change in NDVI using VIIRS data from mid-September 2013 to 2014 in Blackhills, South Dakota. The red areas indicate a larger decrease in NDVI. Image Credit: U.S. Disasters Team.

Percent change in NDVI using VIIRS data from mid-September 2013 to 2014 in Blackhills, South Dakota. The red areas indicate a larger decrease in NDVI. Image Credit: U.S. Disasters Team.

Authors:
Ross Reahard
Alahna Moore
Caitlin Ruby
Eric Mack
Heather Nicholson

Mentors/Advisors:
Joe Spruce (NASA Stennis Space Center, Science Advisor)
James Smoot (NASA Stennis Space Center, Science Advisor)

Past/Other Contributors:
Jamie Thompson (DEVELOP)
Heather Nicholson (DEVELOP)
Tim Sutherland (DEVELOP)
Alyssa Pourmonir (DEVELOP)
Brittany Howell (DEVELOP)

Abstract:
Both federal and state agencies work to manage, monitor, preserve, and protect the nation’s forests. Although abiotic factors, such as droughts, fire, hail, and tornadoes, are commonly recognized as dangerous for our nation’s forests, biotic factors such as insects and diseases pose an equally alarming threat.  Over the past decade, Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites have played a pivotal role in regional forest monitoring; since these sensors have now exceeded their life expectancy, it is essential that new methods and alternative data products are developed to ensure continuity. This project expanded on the previous term’s work by focusing on research comparing Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) products created using data from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) and Aqua MODIS, which are both PM instruments, or instruments that collect data in the afternoon hours.  NDVI products using Landsat 8 data also were used to augment VIIRS and MODIS data.  In addition, alternative vegetation monitoring indices were explored that may potentially offer additional information on forest disturbances, such as Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI), Normalized Difference Moisture Index (NDMI), and Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI). Biotic and abiotic disturbances in varied environments were analyzed. Study areas included mountain pine beetle-induced forest mortality in Black Hills, South Dakota, tornado damage in Mississippi, and hail storm damage in the northeastern United States.

 

 

Back to VPS page.

Topic: