Satellite Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and RADARSAT-1 (radar) satellite image data collected before and after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area on the Louisiana-Mississippi border, USA, were applied to the study of forested wetland impact and recovery. We documented the overall similarity in the radar and optical satellite mapping of impact and recovery patterns and highlighted some unique differences that could be used to provide consistent and relevant ecological monitoring. Satellite optical data transformed to a canopy foliage index (CFI) indicated a dramatic decrease in canopy cover immediately after the storm, which then recovered rapidly in the Taxodium distichum (baldcypress) and Nyssa aquatica (water tupelo) forest. Although CFI levels in early October indicated rapid foliage recovery, the abnormally high radar responses associated with the cypress forest suggested a persistent poststorm difference in canopy structure. Impact and recovery mapping results showed that even though cypress forests experienced very high wind speeds, damage was largely limited to foliage loss. Bottomland hardwoods, experiencing progressively lower wind speeds further inland, suffered impacts ranging from increased occurrences of downed trees in the south to partial foliage loss in the north. In addition, bottomland hardwood impact and recovery patterns suggested that impact severity was associated with a difference in stand structure possibly related to environmental conditions that were not revealed in the prehurricane 25-m optical and radar image analyses.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1