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Monitoring Duration and Extent of Storm-Surge and Flooding in Western Coastal Louisiana Marshes With Envisat ASAR Data

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5 Author(s)
Elijah Ramsey ; National Wetlands Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Lafayette, LA, USA ; Zhong Lu ; Yukihiro Suzuoki ; Amina Rangoonwala
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Inundation maps of coastal marshes in western Louisiana were created with multitemporal Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture (ASAR) scenes collected before and during the three months after Hurricane Rita landfall in September 2005. Corroborated by inland water-levels, 7 days after landfall, 48% of coastal estuarine and palustrine marshes remained inundated by storm-surge waters. Forty-five days after landfall, storm-surge inundated 20% of those marshes. The end of the storm-surge flooding was marked by an abrupt decrease in water levels following the passage of a storm front and persistent offshore winds. A complementary dramatic decrease in flood extent was confirmed by an ASAR-derived inundation map. In nonimpounded marshes at elevations <;80 cm, storm-surge waters rapidly receded while slower recession was dominantly associated with impounded marshes at elevations >;80 cm during the first month after Rita landfall. After this initial period, drainage from marshes-especially impounded marshes-was hastened by the onset of offshore winds. Following the abrupt drops in inland water levels and flood extent, rainfall events coinciding with increased water levels were recorded as inundation re-expansion. This postsurge flooding decreased until only isolated impounded and palustrine marshes remained inundated. Changing flood extents were correlated to inland water levels and largely occurred within the same marsh regions. Trends related to incremental threshold increases used in the ASAR change-detection analyses seemed related to the preceding hydraulic and hydrologic events, and VV and HH threshold differences supported their relationship to the overall wetland hydraulic condition.

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IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing  (Volume:4 ,  Issue: 2 )