Climate change is altering the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Quantifying ecosystem responses to extreme events at the landscape scale is critical for understanding and responding to climate-driven change but is constrained by limited data availability. Here, we integrated remote sensing with ground-based observations to quantify landscape-scale vegetation damage from an extreme climatic event. We used ground- and satellite-based black mangrove (Avicennia germinans) leaf damage data from the northern Gulf of Mexico (USA and Mexico) to examine the effects of an extreme freeze in a region where black mangroves are expanding their range. The February 2021 event produced coastal temperatures as low as − 10 °C in some areas, exceeding thresholds for A. germinans damage and mortality. We used Sentinel-2 surface reflectance data to assess vegetation greenness before and after the freeze, along with ground-based observations of A. germinans leaf damage. Our results show a negative, nonlinear threshold relationship between A. germinans leaf damage and minimum temperature, with a temperature threshold for leaf damage near − 6 °C. Satellite-based analyses indicate that, at the landscape scale, damage was particularly severe along the central Texas coast, where the freeze event affected > 2000 ha of A. germinans-dominated coastal wetlands. Our analyses highlight the value of pairing remotely sensed data with regional, ground-based observations for quantifying and extrapolating the effects of extreme freeze events on mangroves and other tropical, cold-sensitive plants. The results also demonstrate how extreme freeze events govern the expansion and contraction of mangroves near northern range limits in North America.
Martinez, M., Osland, M.J., Grace, J.B. et al. Integrating Remote Sensing with Ground-based Observations to Quantify the Effects of an Extreme Freeze Event on Black Mangroves (Avicennia germinans) at the Landscape Scale. Ecosystems (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-023-00871-z