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Evaluating impact and recovery of mangroves following extreme climatic events using satellite remote sensing in Exmouth Gulf, north western Australia

Stewart-Yates, Zoe (2022) Evaluating impact and recovery of mangroves following extreme climatic events using satellite remote sensing in Exmouth Gulf, north western Australia. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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The objective of this study was to study mangrove response (impact and recovery) from extreme climatic events such as tropical cyclones, marine heatwaves, and drought events on the eastern shores of Exmouth Gulf. Mangroves in arid regions, like those in Exmouth, are considered the most sensitive to disturbances due to already existing at their physiological limits. Projected increase in frequency, severity and duration of climate extremes is also considered a major challenge for mangroves in the future. Mangroves are critically important communities providing a wide variety of essential ecosystem services and coastal protection, making it important to monitor them from these events and assess recovery.

This study used satellite remote sensing and a multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis (MESMA) to detect and quantify impact and track recovery of mangroves from 1998 to 2021. This study found that greater impacts on mangroves were associated with cyclone and drought events, whereas marine heatwaves did not cause much impact. It was also demonstrated that cyclones tended to result in increases in mangrove cover. A cyclone associated with rainfall occurring before a drought event may have ameliorated extreme drought conditions, potentially reducing the disturbance of this event on mangroves. In addition, recovery from one cyclone was particularly slow, however this may be attributed to an extreme drought event that occurred four years later which also resulted in high impact and slow recovery. This raises the concern of compound impacts slowing recovery of mangroves in the area. Impacts associated with one marine heatwave, considered due to other causes, which resulted in lower magnitudes of negative impact resulted in more rapid mangrove recovery.

This study has found additional impacts on mangroves in Exmouth Gulf that had previously gone unreported, demonstrating the importance of remote sensing in monitoring these communities. In addition, demonstrating the need for further long-term monitoring of these mangroves.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Supervisor(s): Kobryn, Halina and Andrew, Margaret
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