Remote sensing vegetation index methods to evaluate changes in greenness and evapotranspiration in riparian vegetation in response to the Minute 319 environmental pulse flow to Mexico

Proceedings of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

During the spring of 2014, 130 million m3 of water were released from the United States' Morelos Dam on the lower Colorado River to Mexico, allowing water to reach the Gulf of California for the first time in 13 years. Our study assessed the effects of water transfer or ecological environmental flows from one nation to another, using remote sensing. Spatial applications for water resource evaluation are important for binational, integrated water resources management and planning for the Colorado River, which includes seven basin states in the US plus two states in Mexico. Our study examined the effects of the historic binational experiment (the Minute 319 agreement) on vegetative response along the riparian corridor. We used 250 m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) and 30 m Landsat 8 satellite imagery to track evapotranspiration (ET) and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Our analysis showed an overall increase in NDVI and evapotranspiration (ET) in the year following the 2014 pulse, which reversed a decline in those metrics since the last major flood in 2000. NDVI and ET levels decreased in 2015, but were still significantly higher (P < 0.001) than pre-pulse (2013) levels. Preliminary findings show that the decline in 2015 persisted into 2016 and 2017. We continue to analyse results for 2018 in comparison to short-term (2013–2018) and long-term (2000–2018) trends. Our results support the conclusion that these environmental flows from the US to Mexico via the Minute 319 “pulse” had a positive, but short-lived (1 year), impact on vegetation growth in the delta.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Remote sensing vegetation index methods to evaluate changes in greenness and evapotranspiration in riparian vegetation in response to the Minute 319 environmental pulse flow to Mexico
Series title Proceedings of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences
DOI 10.5194/piahs-380-45-2018
Volume 380
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher International Association of Hydrological Sciences
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 45
Last page 54
Country Mexico
Other Geospatial Colorado River Delta