Masek, JG, Huang, CQ, Wolfe, R, Cohen, W, Hall, F, Kutler, J, Nelson, P (2008). North American forest disturbance mapped from a decadal Landsat record. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 112(6), 2914-2926.
Forest disturbance and recovery are critical ecosystem processes, but the spatial pattern of disturbance has never been mapped across North America. The LEDAPS (Landsat Ecosystem Disturbance Adaptive Processing System) project has assembled a wall-to-wall record of stand-clearing disturbance (clearcut harvest, fire) for the United States and Canada for the period 1990-2000 using the Landsat satellite archive. Landsat TM and ETM+ data were first converted to surface reflectance using the MODIS/6S atmospheric correction approach. Disturbance and early recovery were mapped using the temporal change in a Tasseled-Cap Disturbance Index calculated from the early (similar to 1990) and later (similar to 2000) images. Validation of the continental mapping has been carried out using a sample of biennial Landsat time series from 23 locations across the United States. Although a significant amount of disturbance (30-60%) cannot be mapped due to the long interval between image acquisition dates, the biennial analyses allow a first-order correction of the decadal mapping. Our results indicate disturbance rates of up to 2-3% per year are common across the US and Canada due primarily to harvest and forest fire. Rates are highest in the southeastern US, the Pacific Northwest, Maine, and Quebec. The mean disturbance rate for the conterminous United States (the lower 48 states and District of Columbia) is calculated as 0.9 +/-0.2% per year, corresponding to a turnover period of 110 years. (C) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.