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Natural Resources Science


Salt marshes are changing due to natural and anthropogenic stressors such as sea level rise, nutrient enrichment, herbivory, storm surge, and coastal development. This study analyzes salt marsh change at Fire Island National Seashore (FIIS), a nationally protected area, using object-based image analysis (OBIA) to classify a combination of data from Worldview-2 and Worldview-3 satellites, topobathymetric Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), and National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) aerial imageries acquired from 1994 to 2017. The salt marsh classification was trained and tested with vegetation plot data. In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused extensive overwash and breached a section of the island. This study quantified the continuing effects of the breach on the surrounding salt marsh. The tidal inundation at the time of image acquisition was analyzed using a topobathymetric LiDAR-derived Digital Elevation Model (DEM) to create a bathtub model at the target tidal stage. The study revealed geospatial distribution and rates of change within the salt marsh interior and the salt marsh edge. The Worldview-2/Worldview-3 imagery classification was able to classify the salt marsh environments accurately and achieved an overall accuracy of 92.75%. Following the breach caused by Hurricane Sandy, bayside salt marsh edge was found to be eroding more rapidly (F1, 1597 = 206.06, p < 0.001). However, the interior panne/pool expansion rates were not affected by the breach. The salt marsh pannes and pools were more likely to revegetate if they had a hydrological connection to a mosquito ditch (χ2 = 28.049, p < 0.001). The study confirmed that the NAIP data were adequate for determining rates of salt marsh change with high accuracy. The cost and revisit time of NAIP imagery creates an ideal open data source for high spatial resolution monitoring and change analysis of salt marsh environments.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.