Impact of Volcanic Sulfur Emissions on the Pine Forest of La Palma, Spain

Frank Weiser, Esther Baumann, Anke Jentsch, Félix Manuel Medina, Meng Lu, Manuel Nogales, Carl Beierkuhnlein
2022 Forests  
In autumn 2021, the largest volcanic eruption on the island of La Palma in historic records took place. The Canary Islands are of volcanic origin and eruptions have always constituted part of their natural disturbance regime. Until recently, their impacts could not be directly observed and studied. Influence of the emission of phytotoxic gases on biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics was hitherto unknown. The recent eruption is still being intensely monitored. We used Sentinel-2 remote sensing
more » ... a to analyze the spatial extent and intensity of the impact related to sulfuric emissions, aiming to understand the damage patterns in Canary pine forest. The emissions damaged 10% of that forest and affected 5.3% of the Natura 2000 protected areas. We concluded that this is largely due to the toxic effects of the enormous emissions of SO2. We found a clear correlation between the change in the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and distance from the eruption. This pattern was weakly anisotropic, with stronger damage in southern directions. Counteracting effects, such as ash deposition, were largely excluded by combining NDVI change detection with tree cover density. We expect that vegetation damage will be transient. P. canariensis can resprout after forest fires, where most leaves are lost. Consequently, our assessment can serve as a reference for future ecosystem regeneration.
doi:10.3390/f13020299 fatcat:244zqunahbcunevppudzgyybta