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Short-term vegetation succession and erosion identified by airborne remote sensing of Westerschelde salt marshes, The Netherlands

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The Westerschelde estuary is the only major uncontrolled estuary in the south of The Netherlands. More than 15 000 ships per year use it to access the Belgian port of Antwerp. A major dredging operation along the Westerschelde in the late 1990s has changed the tidal regime and increased tidal inundation of the salt marshes at high tide. Airborne remote sensing (CASI) has been acquired in 1998 and 2000 for three salt marsh sites in the Westerschelde estuary. An additional dataset exists for one site for 1993. The CASI data have been classified into maps of salt marsh vegetation. These provide an input for GIS-based modelling of sediment erosion/accretion. Maps of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values allow change detection: successional change of salt marsh vegetation is clearly demonstrated. The 1993, 1998 and 2000 data show a successional trend between 1993 and 1998 that is, in part, reversing between 1998 and 2000. Data also showed significant erosion of the salt marsh edge. Data are being used to extrapolate field measurements and help produce sediment budgets for the individual salt marshes.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Section for Earth Observation CEH Monks Wood, Abbots Ripton Huntingdon Cambridgeshire PE28 2LS UK 2: Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Centre for Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Korringaweg 7 P.O. Box 140, 4400 Yerseke The Netherlands 3: LaB Coastal, The Maylands Back Lane Holywell Cambridgeshire PE27 4TQ UK

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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