An empirical model was used to relate forest type and hurricane-impact distribution with wind speed and duration to explain the variation of hurricane damage among forest types along the Atchafalaya River basin of coastal Louisiana. Forest-type distribution was derived from Landsat Thematic Mapper image data, hurricane-impact distribution from a suite of transformed advanced very high resolution radiometer images, and wind speed and duration from a wind-field model. The empirical model explained 73%, 84%, and 87% of the impact variances for open, hardwood, and cypress-tupelo forests, respectively. These results showed that the estimated impact for each forest type was highly related to the duration and speed of extreme winds associated with Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The wind-field model projected that the highest wind speeds were in the southern basin, dominated by cypress-tupelo and open forests, while lower wind speeds were in the northern basin, dominated by hardwood forests. This evidence could explain why, on average, the impact to cypress-tupelos was more severe than to hardwoods, even though cypress-tupelos are less susceptible to wind damage. Further, examination of the relative importance of wind speed in explaining the impact severity to each forest type showed that the impact to hardwood forests was mainly related to tropical-depression to tropical-storm force wind speeds. Impacts to cypress-tupelo and open forests (a mixture of willows and cypress-tupelo) were broadly related to tropical-storm force wind speeds and by wind speeds near and somewhat in excess of hurricane force. Decoupling the importance of duration from speed in explaining the impact severity to the forests could not be fully realized. Most evidence, however, hinted that impact severity was positively related to higher durations at critical wind speeds. Wind-speed intervals, which were important in explaining the impact severity on hardwoods, showed that higher durations, but not the highest wind speeds, were concentrated in the northern basin, dominated by hardwoods. The extreme impacts associated with the cypress-tupelo forests in the southeast corner of the basin intersected the highest durations as well as the highest wind speeds. ?? 2001 Published by Elsevier Science Inc.
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Forest impact estimated with NOAA AVHRR and landsat TM data related to an empirical hurricane wind-field distribution