Utilizing Landsat TM and Forest Service Aerial Survey Data for Mapping Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak in Medicine Bow National Forest, WY

Arendt, Paul
Ongoing mountain pine beetle infestation in the Rocky Mountain Region has resulted in research for assessing their impact on vegetation. Beetles reproduce within the phloem, resulting in disrupted water and nutrient transport that eventually killing the tree. Vast extent of dead and dying trees pose fire hazard and can lead to economic and environmental damages in this region. The United States Forest Service has been conducting aerial surveys to monitor the spread of this epidemic. Satellite images are used for assessing the impact on vegetation conditions and analyzing the patterns of spread. This study assessed vegetation damage in the Sierra Madre Mountains of the Medicine Bow National Forest using Normalized Vegetation Difference Index (NDVI), Enhanced Wetness Difference Index (EWDI), and vegetation indices such as straight ratios. Data collected through aerial surveys were combined with Landsat images acquired during and prior to each survey year. The magnitude of change in NDVI and other indices was compared across different elevation ranges, and damage size categories.
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