GHOST FOREST RISING: A HYPERSPECTRAL APPROACH TO ASSESSING VEGETATION HEALTH AND TREE DIE-OFF IN RESPONSE TO SALTWATER INTRUSION IN A COASTAL ENVIRONMENT
Saltwater intrusion is a natural occurrence that can affect the quality of groundwater and surface water. It can also affect the health of vegetation that depends on fresh water. Our study took place on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula (APP), where we studied the effects of saltwater on vegetation with focus on loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda). We investigated the health of pine trees in this region to explore potential links between saltwater intrusion and die-off, particularly where artificial ditches and canals allow saltwater to flow deep into the interior of the peninsula. Using a spectroradiometer, we collected hyperspectral reflectance data in visible and near infrared wavebands from more than 100 canopy and leaf samples across the APP. We accompanied these measurements with measurements of tree height and circumference, distances from nearby waterways, and specific conductance measurements (as a salinity proxy) of these waters. We used reflectance spectra to calculate the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, the Red-Green Index, and site-specific indices to determine the health of particular trees. Using this information in conjunction with ancillary data, we explored the correlations between the health of vegetation and the salinity of nearby water sources.
Lizzie Lightning (Primary Presenter/Author), Northeastern State University, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Theo Jass ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), NC State University, email@example.com;
Alexander McGirt ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), UNC Charlotte, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Ryan E. Emanuel ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), NC State University, email@example.com;