Using Remote Sensing Data to Assess Vegetation Mortality on Grand Bahama Island Pre- and Post-Hurricane Dorian

Zeko McKenzie, Loma Linda University; Mark Kumler, GIS; Ruijin Ma, GIS; Kimberlyn Williams, CSUSB; William Hayes, Loma Linda University

In the last two decades, major hurricanes have devastated the forest landscape of Grand Bahama. Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 tropical cyclone, made landfall in Grand Bahama in 2019 and resulted in further loss of pine vegetation (46.3% of the original vegetation [256.1 km2]) and more than half of the mangrove forests after flooding 67.0% (919.3 km2) of the island. To capture the extent of the pine forest loss on Grand Bahama, we used satellite-based indices (NDVI, NDMI, and NBR) from Landsat and Sentinel-2 images and the support vector machine algorithm to estimate vegetation casualty pre- and post-Hurricane Dorian. We estimated that from 2004 to 2020, Grand Bahama lost 90.9% and 58.6% of its pine and mangrove forests, respectively. This research reports new findings on hurricane-related damage to the pine forest ecosystem in Grand Bahama, providing valuable information regarding the ecological consequences of severe hurricanes on these types of forests.

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