Extensive mapping of coastal change in Alaska by Landsat time-series analysis, 1972–2013

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Joel Reynolds1, Matthew J Macander2, Christopher S Swingley2 and Shane Spencer2, (1)Western Alaska LCC, Anchorage, AK, United States, (2)Organization Not Listed, Washington, DC, United States
The landscape-scale effects of coastal storms on Alaska’s Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska coasts includes coastal erosion, migration of spits and barrier islands, breaching of coastal lakes and lagoons, and inundation and salt-kill of vegetation. Large changes in coastal storm frequency and intensity are expected due to climate change and reduced sea-ice extent. Storms have a wide range of impacts on carbon fluxes and on fish and wildlife resources, infrastructure siting and operation, and emergency response planning. In areas experiencing moderate to large effects, changes can be mapped by analyzing trends in time series of Landsat imagery from Landsat 1 through Landsat 8. The authors are performing a time-series trend analysis for over 22,000 kilometers of coastline along the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Ice- and cloud-free Landsat imagery from Landsat 1–8, covering 1972–2013, were analyzed using a combination of regression, changepoint detection, and classification tree approaches to detect, classify, and map changes in near-infrared reflectance. Areas with significant changes in coastal features, as well as timing of dominant changes and, in some cases, rates of change were identified . The approach captured many coastal changes over the 42-year study period, including coastal erosion exceeding the 60-m pixel resolution of the Multispectral Scanner (MSS) data and migrations of coastal spits and estuarine channels.