Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WyomingView interns describe how satellite data can be used for monitoring past environmental changes

Emily Richardson (BS Botany) monitored aspen tree growth in normal, wet, and dry years along an elevation gradient in the Sierra Madre Mountains. She computed a vegetation index from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) data acquired in 3 years and analyzed tree growth based on their phenology curves. Aspen stands growing at lower elevations exhibited major changes during these three years, whereas their growth patterns at higher elevations did not show such variations.

Ryan Lermon (BS Rangeland Ecology & Watershed Management) mapped the burn severity at a prescribed fire site north of Rawlins, WY. Prescribed fires are part of forest management methods aimed at reducing fuel load, and improving overall habitat quality. Following a prescribed fire event, land management agencies are required to map how fire moved through the landscape but lack the necessary resources to generate it. Using a Landsat 8 image acquired after the fire, Ryan mapped the impact of this prescribed fire as high, medium, low and no-burn classes. This map will be used by agencies to establish field sampling plots for monitor vegetation regrowth.

Emily and Ryan presented their work in the Wyoming Undergraduate Research Day on 26 April 2014.

Following newspapers published a short description of Emily's work:

Laramie Boomerang - May 10, 2014 - Link to article

Casper Star Tribune - May 12, 2014 - Link to article

Washington Times - May 10, 2014 - Link to article