Science brief summary by: Laura E. P. Rocchio

Disturbance map

Disturbance map developed using a stack of Landsat data for an area south of Lake Moultrie in South Carolina. Persisting forest, nonforest, and water are shown in green, gray, and blue, respectively. All other colors represent changes mapped in different years.

To provide details about the effect of forest disturbance on the North American carbon budget, an interagency initiative known as the North American Carbon Program (NACP) has recommended the use of satellite remote sensing to regularly map forests. In response to this recommendation, the Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance and Adaptive Processing System (LEDAPS) and the North American Forest Dynamics (NAFD) projects are using Landsat data to better quantify forest disturbances. In the Mar. 11 edition of EOS, Goward et al. gave an overview of the LEDAPS and NAFD projects.

LEDAPS is currently using (circa) 1990 and 2000 Landsat data to create comprehensive maps of forest disturbance across North America. This effort is helping researchers sort out the geographic distribution of forest disturbance intensity.

Meanwhile, by using large stacks of Landsat data spanning from 1972–2005 the NAFD project has characterized 23 sample locations across the U.S. Those characterizations were used to create statistical summaries and forest change maps that will enable the calculation of forest biomass and the rate of biomass loss. Currently, NAFD is in the process of expanding to include Canada and Mexico. Data products from NAFD will also be integrated into biogeochemical models to enable better carbon flux estimates and the data products will play a role in the reconstruction of land cover change metrics from the last three centuries. For more details, please refer to the reference section of the EOS article.

Goward, S.N., J.G.Masek, W.Cohen, G.Moisen, G.J.Collatz, S.Healey, R.A.Houghton, C.Huang, R.Kennedy, B.Law, S.Powell, D.Turner, M.A.Wulder. Forest Disturbance and North American Carbon Flux. EOS, vol. 89, no. 11 pp.105–116.