Remote Assessment of Forest Health in Southern Arizona, USA: Evidence for Ozone-Induced Foliar Injury
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This paper examines possible ozone-induced foliar injury to ponderosa pine areas in the Rincon Mountains of southern Arizona from 1972 to 1992. Spatiotemporal differences in a satellite-derived vegetation index (VI) are examined with respect to antecedent moisture conditions, temporal variations in ozone exposure levels, and measured foliar injury values from 1985. Seasonal ozone exposure levels (SUM60 and W126) increased from 1982 to 1998 and were significantly correlated (r = 0.49 and 0.53, α= 0.05) with annual population totals in the Tucson area. Extensive masking of satellite images from 1972, 1986, and 1992 resulted in two optimal change detection areas, with one site, TVWMica, exposed mostly to the Tucson air pollution plume, while the other site, EMica, was more protected from Tucson-derived pollution. An overall increase in VI from 1972 to 1992 at both sites appears to have been caused by an increase in moisture availability. Larger foliar injury values in 1985 were associated with a smaller increase in VI (i.e., a smaller increase in green leaf biomass) from 1972 to 1986. From 1972 to 1986 and from 1986 to 1992, VI values at TV/WMica increased at a slower rate compared to those at EMica. The reduced increase in “green-up” may have been caused partially by ozone-induced foliar injury and resulting decreases in green leaf biomass. However, these spatial differences in VI values may have also been caused by a number of other factors. Results nevertheless reveal the strong possibility of distinct, topographically based, spatial variations in ozone-induced foliar injury within the Rincons.
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