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Assessing the extent of mangrove change caused by Cyclone Vance in the eastern Exmouth Gulf, northwestern Australia

Paling, E.I., Kobryn, H.T.ORCID: 0000-0003-1004-7593 and Humphreys, G. (2008) Assessing the extent of mangrove change caused by Cyclone Vance in the eastern Exmouth Gulf, northwestern Australia. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 77 (4). pp. 603-613.

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Changes in mangal area were quantified in the eastern Exmouth Gulf over six years (1999-2004) after Cyclone Vance using Landsat TM satellite imagery and aerial photography. Vance was the strongest tropical cyclone ever to impact the Australian mainland before 2006 and produced wind gusts of more than 280 km h-1. Image data were processed using ENVI™ and IDRISI™ software. Three sets of Landsat TM images from 1999 (a few days before the cyclone), 2002 and 2004 were used, along with 2004 digital aerial photography. A 'common' subset of 904 km2 was selected from all images and classification was developed using ISODATA™ unsupervised classification to identify spectrally distinct areas followed by principal component analysis (PCA), vegetation indices and supervised classification. Some 12,800 ha of mangrove habitat was present before the cyclone and approximately 5700 ha (44%) was removed by it. Most mangroves lost (74%) between 1999 and 2004 were converted either to bare sediment or to live saltmarshes and this occurred mostly between 1999 and 2002. Five basic categories of damage were conspicuous from imagery and field observations, and evidence suggests that much of the loss was due to the longer term consequences of sediment deposition or smothering, rather than the immediate effects of wind or waves. Mangroves exhibited accelerated recovery between 2002 and 2004, and around 1580 ha regenerated during this time, amounting to a return of 68% of their former coverage. At this recovery rate we estimate that they should have returned to their pre-cyclone area by 2009. Over half of the saltmarsh habitats (54%) were removed by the cyclone (4060 ha) but their recovery has been far more rapid than mangroves. After 5 years, saltmarshes had returned to 87% of their previous area. The 5700 ha of mangrove habitat damaged by Cyclone Vance exceeds any anthropogenic impact that has ever taken place in Western Australia by several orders of magnitude.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 2007 Elsevier Ltd.
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