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Title: North American forest disturbance mapped from a decadal Landsat record

Author: Masek, Jeffrey G.; Huang, Chengquan; Wolfe, Robert; Cohen, Warren; Hall, Forrest; Kutler, Jonathan; Nelson, Peder.;

Date: 2008

Source: Remote Sensing of Environment. 112: 2914-2926

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Forest disturbance and recovery are critical ecosystem processes, but the spatial pattern of disturbance has never been mapped across North America. The LEDAPS (Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance Adaptive Processing System) project has assembled a wall-to-wall record of stand-clearing disturbance (clearcut harvest, fire) for the United States and Canada for the period 1990-2000 using the Landsat satellite archive. Landsat TM and ETM+data were first converted to surface reflectance using the MODIS/6S atmospheric correction approach. Disturbance and early recovery were mapped using the temporal change in a Tasseled-Cap "Disturbance Index" calculated from the early (~1990) and later (-~2000) images. Validation of the continental mapping has been carried out using a sample of biennial Landsat time series from 23 locations across the United States. Although a significant amount of disturbance (30-60%) cannot be mapped due to the long interval between image acquisition dates, the biennial analyses allow a first-order correction of the decadal mapping. Our results indicate disturbance rates of up to 2-3% per year are common across the US and Canada due primarily to harvest and forest fire. Rates are highest in the southeastern US, the Pacific Northwest, Maine, and Quebec. The mean disturbance rate for the conterminous United States (the "lower 48" states and District of Columbia) is calculated as 0.9 +/-0.2% per year, corresponding to a turnover period of 110 years.

Keywords: remote sensing, Landsat, change detection, forestry, disturbance

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Masek, Jeffrey G.; Huang, Chengquan; Wolfe, Robert; Cohen, Warren; Hall, Forrest; Kutler, Jonathan; Nelson, Peder. 2008. North American forest disturbance mapped from a decadal Landsat record. Remote Sensing of Environment. 112: 2914-2926.

 


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