Project Team: Gulf Coast Ecological Forecasting Team
Team Location: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
Dr. Marc Simard (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Louisiana’s coastline is home to widespread wetland ecosystems, including salt marshes and mangrove forests, which provide vital ecological services. These wetlands are extremely vulnerable to sea level rise due to climate change, urban development, and the relatively low elevation along Louisiana’s coast. To assess the health, distribution, and vulnerability of tidal wetlands, a variety of datasets and models were investigated. This involved using a time series from 1984 to the present of Landsat 5 and 8 and National Wetlands Inventory data to perform change-detection. NASA’s Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) data also were used to create estimates of biomass within wetlands along Louisiana’s coastline. These data then informed the implementation and interpretation of two ecological models. First, the FORMAN Model was presented as a preliminary tool to assess the growth potential of Louisiana’s mangrove ecosystems. Then, the Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) was applied to investigate wetland vulnerability and predict the response of all coastal wetlands in Louisiana to sea level rise. This model implemented the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) climate change projection A1B, which then allowed for the estimation of biomass loss with increasing sea level. With these data compiled and tools implemented, the overall health and vulnerability of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands could be appraised to inform further research and official decision-making.