Date of Graduation

12-2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Geography (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Geosciences

Advisor

Jason Tullis

Committee Member

Jackson Cothren

Second Committee Member

Kenneth Kvamme

Keywords

Health and environmental sciences, Earth sciences, Biological sciences, Deciduous forests, Enhanced Vegetaion Index, Frost

Abstract

The impacts of an April 2007 spring freeze event on the productivity of deciduous broadleaf forest were analyzed using geographic information system (GIS) tools. Forest productivity was modeled using the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI), as recorded by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite sensor. Measures of spatial autocorrelation were used to quantify the degree of spatial congruence between a map depicting the severity of the freeze event, and maps modeling forest productivity throughout the year. The results show a geographic correlation between the unseasonably low minimum temperatures sustained during the freeze and the unusually low forest productivity that followed. Discussion also includes the influence on freeze damage of premature growth onset triggered by an unusually warm March 2007, the seemingly paradoxical relationship between spring frost damage and climate change, and the potential for practical applications of this study with regard to predictive modeling and ecological forecasting.

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