Landscape Ecology

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 99–111 | Cite as

Physical influences of landscape on a large-extent ecological disturbance: the northeastern North American ice storm of 1998



The 1998 ice storm was a large-extent ecological disturbance that severely affected the eastern Adirondack forests of northern New York. Ice damage produced widespread breakage of limbs and trunks in susceptible trees. Although ice storms are common within northeastern North American forests, the magnitude and extent of the 1998 storm far exceeded damage caused by typical ice storms in the recent past. While plot and stand-scale ecological impacts of ice storms have received attention insofar as tree species vulnerability, stand age susceptibility, and microhabitat alterations, larger-extent damage patterns have not been previously evaluated. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was employed to assess forest vigor and canopy density in atmospherically corrected Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite imagery of the Adirondacks. Digital change analysis of the baseline forest condition (1990 NDVI data), and the condition encountered in a post-storm image (1998 NDVI data) was conducted. Forest damage was separated from natural variations in canopy reflectance by employing a generalized linear model that incorporated in situ measurements. A robust empirical variogram analysis revealed that locations of tree damage were significantly correlated for distances up to 300 meters. Intensely-damaged forest exhibited greater spatial dependence, but over a smaller distance. Canopy damage was not greater proximate to stream and forest boundaries, and did not follow our hypothesis of decreasing damage with distance from the boundary. Overall, we show that local topography (elevation and aspect), forest composition (deciduous or coniferous), and the meteorological characteristics of the disturbance event acted together to determine the spatial extent of ice storm damage.

Adirondacks Forest damage Ice storm Landsat Large-extent ecological disturbance Spatial pattern Topography Variogram analysis 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaU.S.A

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