Rooting Out the Problem: Mesquite Trees‰Ûª Effect on Estuary Health

EarthzineAssessing Drought and Water Availability, DEVELOP 2015 Summer VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session

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Thermal Map of the Laguna Madre for Jan. 15, 2014. Image Credit: Coastal Texas Water Resources Team

Thermal Map of the Laguna Madre for Jan. 15, 2014. Image Credit: Coastal Texas Water Resources Team

Category:åÊAssessing Drought and Water Availability

Project Team: Coastal Texas Water Resources

Team Location: Mobile County Health Department – Mobile, Alabama

Authors:

Elaina Gonsoroski

Tyler Lynn

Georgina Crepps

Rodrigo Pereira da Silva

Ryan Schick

Mentors/Advisors:

Joe Spruce (NASA Stennis Space Center)

Bernard Eichold, M.D., DrPH (Mobile County Health Department)

James ‰ÛÏDoc‰Û Smoot (NASA Stennis Space Center)

Abstract:

This project partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to help analyze the correlation between mesquite trees and the salinity of the Laguna Madre of Padre Island National Seashore. The lagoon is a hypersaline estuary; however, there is historical evidence that this was not always the case. It is hypothesized that the increase in the number of honey mesquite trees (Prosopis grandulosa var. glandulosa) in the area has contributed to the Laguna Madre‰Ûªs increased salinity by decreasing the groundwater inflow to the lagoon. These mesquite trees have long taproots capable of extracting significant amounts of groundwater. This project utilized Earth observation data in ERDAS IMAGINE and ArcGIS software to create map time series and analyze the data. Landsat 5, 7, and 8 data were used to create land use/land cover (LULC) maps in order to analyze the change in the occurrence of mesquite trees over time. Thermal maps of the lagoon were generated using Landsat 5, 7, and 8 data to understand changes in groundwater inflow. In addition, TRMM- and GRACE-derived changes in root zone soil moisture content data were compared over the study period. By investigating the suspected positive correlation between the mesquite trees and the salinity of the Laguna Madre, the NPS can improve future land management practices.

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