Thirty Year Analysis of Forest and Scrub Canopy Cover on the Big Sur Coast of California using Landsat ImageryChristopher Potter*
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, USA
- *Corresponding Author:
- Christopher Potter
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA, USA
E-mail: [email protected]
Received Date: May 23, 2016; Accepted Date: July 28, 2016; Published Date: August 01, 2016
Citation: Potter C (2016) Thirty Year Analysis of Forest and Scrub Canopy Cover on the Big Sur Coast of California using Landsat Imagery. J Ecosys Ecograph 6:199. doi:10.4172/2157-7625.1000199
Copyright: © 2016 Potter C. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use,distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
The potential for negative effects such as habitat loss and high severity wildfires on endemic and threatened biological resources on the United States Pacific coast from recent climate warming has received increasing attention. This study was designed to quantify, for the first time, variations in forest and coastal bluff scrub canopy density and related growth rates using 30 consecutive years of April-to-June Landsat satellite image data for the central California coast around Big Sur. A trend model was fit to multi-year Landsat NDVI time series using least squares non-linear regression on time. Analysis showed that annual growth rates for coast redwood stands in the Big Sur area, the southern-most range for Sequoia sempervirens on the Pacific coast, have been depressed by periods of drought that exceeded -1.2 standard deviations of long-term annual precipitation. There was no evidence from the Landsat record that recent large wildfires have affected region-wide coast redwood stand structure or growth rates. Nonetheless, extensive wildfires of 2008 did have a marked (albeit temporary) impact on canopy density of the region’s mixed hardwood and Coulter pine forest zones, equivalent to the extreme drought effects of 1990-1991 and 2013-2014 on these higher elevation forest zones.