Isolating anthropogenic wetland loss by concurrently tracking inundation and land cover disturbance across the Mid-Atlantic Region, U.S.

Remote Sensing
By: , and 

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Abstract

Global trends in wetland degradation and loss have created an urgency to monitor wetland extent, as well as track the distribution and causes of wetland loss. Satellite imagery can be used to monitor wetlands over time, but few efforts have attempted to distinguish anthropogenic wetland loss from climate-driven variability in wetland extent. We present an approach to concurrently track land cover disturbance and inundation extent across the Mid-Atlantic region, United States, using the Landsat archive in Google Earth Engine. Disturbance was identified as a change in greenness, using a harmonic linear regression approach, or as a change in growing season brightness. Inundation extent was mapped using a modified version of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Dynamic Surface Water Extent (DSWE) algorithm. Annual (2015–2018) disturbance averaged 0.32% (1095 km2 year-1) of the study area per year and was most common in forested areas. While inundation extent showed substantial interannual variability, the co-occurrence of disturbance and declines in inundation extent represented a minority of both change types, totaling 109 km2 over the four-year period, and 186 km2, using the National Wetland Inventory dataset in place of the Landsat-derived inundation extent. When the annual products were evaluated with permitted wetland and stream fill points, 95% of the fill points were detected, with most found by the disturbance product (89%) and fewer found by the inundation decline product (25%). The results suggest that mapping inundation alone is unlikely to be adequate to find and track anthropogenic wetland loss. Alternatively, remotely tracking both disturbance and inundation can potentially focus efforts to protect, manage, and restore wetlands.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Isolating anthropogenic wetland loss by concurrently tracking inundation and land cover disturbance across the Mid-Atlantic Region, U.S.
Series title Remote Sensing
DOI 10.3390/rs12091464
Volume 12
Issue 9
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher MDPI
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center, Hydrologic Investigations and Research Section
Description 1464, 29 p.
Country United States
State Delaware, MarylandPennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
Other Geospatial Mid-Atlantic Region
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