A Legend in the Making: Mapping Mangroves in the Florida Everglades

Category: Land Cover Change & Disturbances
Project Team: Everglades Ecological Forecasting
Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center – Hampton, Virginia

Landsat 5 image highlighting the Florida Everglades mangrove extent using a cloud filtering algorithm and false color bands. Image Credit: Everglades Ecological Forecasting Team

Landsat 5 image highlighting the Florida Everglades mangrove extent using a cloud filtering algorithm and false color bands. Image Credit: Everglades Ecological Forecasting Team

Authors:
Donnie Kirk
Caitlin Toner
Emily Gotschalk
Rachel Cabosky
Brad Gregory
Candace Kendall

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA Langley Research Center)
Dr. Hans-Peter Plag (Old Dominion University, Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute)
Dr. Marguerite Madden (University of Georgia, Center for Geospatial Research)

Abstract:

Mangroves act as a transition zone between fresh and salt water ecotones by filtering and monitoring salinity levels along the coast of the Florida Everglades. Mangroves offer specialized habitats and provide shoreline stabilization, critical to a region beset by tropical storms. These areas give way to marshlands that depend on the services mangroves provide, as they require larger quantities of freshwater. In an attempt to assist in maintaining the health of the threatened mangrove species, efforts have been made within the park to rebalance the ecosystem. The National Park Service requires a way to track the distribution of marshes and mangroves. The DEVELOP Ecological Forecasting team used Google Earth Engine and satellite imagery from Landsat 5 and 8 with comparison to existing vegetation maps. The team was able to conduct the classification to display mangrove and marsh regions in 1995, 2005, and 2015. After considering several geospatial analysis platforms, Google Earth Engine was selected due to the accessibility of its open source platform. In order to make the process replicable for the Everglades National Park, a comprehensive methodology of classifying mangroves in Google Earth Engine was developed. The process was designed with the intent that the methodology be transferrable to personnel at Everglades National Park. The current extent map, in conjunction with TerrSet and transition maps, supported the creation of the forecasted models.

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