Examining the influence of tidal stage on salt marsh mapping using high-spatial-resolution satellite remote sensing and topobathymetric LiDAR

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Salt marsh vegetation extent and zonation are often controlled by bottom up factors determined in part by the frequency and duration of tidal inundation. Tidal inundation during remote-sensing mapping of salt marsh resources can alter the resulting image classification. The degree of this impact on mapping with very high resolution (VHR) imagery has yet to be determined. This paper utilizes topobathymetric light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data and bathtub models of a tidal stage at 5 cm intervals from mean low water (MLW) to mean high water (MHW) and determines the impact of tidal variation in salt marsh mapping within Jamaica Bay, NY, USA. Tidal inundation models were compared with the Worldview-2 and Quickbird-2 imageries acquired at a range of tidal stages. The modeled inundation of normalized difference vegetation index and smooth cordgrass (S. alterniflora) maps was compared from MLW to MHW. This paper finds that at 0.6 m above MLW, only 3.5% of S. alterniflora is inundated. This paper demonstrates a modeling approach integrating VHR satellite remote-sensing data and topobathymetric LiDAR data to address tidal variation in salt marsh mapping. The incremental modeling of the tidal stage is important for understanding areas most at risk from sea level rise and informs management decisions in accordance with this.

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IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing