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Deforestation Trends from Land Cover Time Series 1997-2017

Authors: Li Xi*, Clark University, Caroline Williams, Clark University, Christopher Williams, Clark University
Topics: Earth Science, Global Change, United States
Keywords: deforestation, forest loss, land cover, time series, remote sensing, Landsat
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Forest is the largest terrestrial carbon sink stabilizing carbon storage on Earth. Forest also plays a fundamental role in regulating global climate, securing watershed health conditions, sheltering biological diversity, and providing other ecosystem services. However, approximately 380,000 hectares of forests are lost daily in the United States causing 52 million tons of carbon dioxide emission into the atmosphere. Large scale of deforestation can also lead to many devastating environmental consequences. Therefore, this study examined forest loss, gained land cover types, and time series pixel trajectories as a means of assessing interregional deforestation dynamics in the United States based on Landsat. Both New England and California were selected to provide preliminary findings comparing the Northeast and the West. Between 1997 and 2007, the confident forest loss area increased from 210.21 to 386.86 square kilometers in New England but remained relatively stable in California. Between 1997 and 2017, the gross forest loss area in New England and California increased rapidly to 971.97 and 796.83 square kilometers in 2017, respectively. Forest loss in both regions mostly took place between 2006 and 2007. In New England, its four dominant gained land cover types from forest conversion were wetlands, crop/pastures, developed land, and developed, open space. In California, the four main cover types were shrub, herbaceous, crop and pasture, and wetlands.

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