Authors: Conor Collins, Cheliene Rose, Amanda Gray, Lauren Steel, Justin Weiser
Mentors/Advisors (affiliation): Dr. Kenton Ross (Langley Research Center)
Past or Other Contributors: Brian van Eerden ÛÒ Southern Rivers Program Director,The Nature Conservancy
Doris McLeod ÛÒ Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Tim Craig ÛÒ Dismal Swamp Refuge Fire Management Officer
Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
Abstract: The 2011 Lateral West Wildfire brought attention to the Great Dismal Swamp Refuge (GDSR), as the wildfire was particularly severe and burned for 111 days. This fire was fueled by a 3-year period of dryness (2008-2011), with two excessive dry seasons and dryer wet seasons in 2010 and 2011, which led to an increased fuel load. The Great Dismal Swamp’s hydrological cycle is precariously balanced between inputs of precipitation and minor groundwater flows, and outputs of transevaporation. Using the Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper, Terra’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflectance Radiometer (ASTER), and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, it is possible to analyze areas at risk of drying. Normalized Difference Vegetation Indices (NDVIs), land cover maps, flood maps, and flood risk maps, provided a means of assessing ecosystems especially vulnerable to drying, with an emphasis on the American White Cedar, Cypress Gum, and Maple Gum Tree species. These map products and methodologies will aid in assessing the effects of dryness on certain species by showing areas that are especially vulnerable to drying and how they react to flooding. This will enhance decision-making capabilities at the GDSR for strategically flooding certain areas of the swamp to decrease the possibility of wildfires.
Transcript available here.