, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 496-507
Date: 31 Jan 2009

The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Coastal Vegetation of the Weeks Bay Reserve, Alabama from NDVI Data

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Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data were used to investigate vegetation changes after Hurricane Katrina (2005) for the Weeks Bay Reserve and surrounding area of coastal AL. Landsat 5 satellite images were acquired before landfall (March 24, 2005), after landfall (September 16, 2005), and 8 months after landfall (April 28, 2006). The March 2005 to September 2005 image comparison showed that average NDVI values decreased by 49% after landfall. Continuing into the next year, average NDVI values were −44% lower in April 2006 than they were in March 2005. Among habitat types, the estuarine emergent wetland experienced the largest average NDVI value decrease (−64%). The estuarine emergent wetland NDVI values continued to decrease by −27% from September 2005 to April 2006, whereas other habitats increased in NDVI. This continued suppression of NDVI values was attributed to increased salinity from the storm surge and to regional drought conditions that occurred after landfall. These results provide insight into the sensitivity of coastal vegetation from the interactions of both tropical cyclones and long-term environmental conditions.