Stopping Wetland Dieback, a Journey through the Muck

EarthzineDEVELOP Summer 2013 VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Original

Salt marsh extent derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) along coastal Georgia and snapshots of field sampling.

Team Location: University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia


Steve Padgett-Vasquez (University of Georgia)

Shuvankhar Ghosh (University of Georgia)

Joe White (Bethune-Cookman University)

Jeremy Mote (University of Georgia)

Auryn Baruch (University of Georgia)

Ning Chen (University of Georgia)


Deepak Mishra, Ph.D. (University of Georgia)


A third of all the salt marsh in the eastern seaboard can be found in Georgia. Salt marshes are highly productive ecosystems that provide habitat and nutrition to wildlife, offer protection from flooding and storm surges, and help filter polluted runoff from upland areas. This study demonstrated the ability to identify ‰ÛÏhotspots‰Û of early stages of marsh degradation which can only be delineated by evaluating marsh biophysical characteristics including distribution of chlorophyll content (Chl), leaf area index (LAI, a ratio of green foliage area vs. ground area), and green vegetation fraction (VF, or percent green canopy cover). These biophysical characteristics are primary indicators of photosynthetic capacity, nitrogen content, and physiological status of vegetation.åÊ Terra’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 250 meter and 500 meter data åÊwere used to retrieve the above described biophysical characteristics for Georgia salt marshes. This work is significant because it allows, for the first time, the use of NASA satellite data to study the biophysical characteristics of salt marshes in the Georgia coast which in turn, has the potential of increasing our predictive capability with respect to carbon sequestration in these ecosystems. The result is an efficient and non-destructive biophysical mapping protocol for emergent wetlands to be used in restoration decision-making by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Return to the Summer 2013 VPS page.