Ash fall impact on vegetation: a remote sensing approach of the Oldoinyo Lengai 2007–08 eruption
Journal of Applied Volcanology
Impacts from ash fallout on the environment can be widespread and long lasting, even from moderate-size eruptions. Assessing ash impact on vegetation and the indirect impacts for people is often difficult in the field. Here it is assessed how satellite data can help to map vegetation affected by ash and how temporal analysis enables characterization of vegetation recovery rate. The 2007-08 eruption of Oldoinyo Lengai, north Tanzania, is here used as a case study. An 8 year-long (2005-2012) time
... ng (2005-2012) time series of half-monthly average of the Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI) is constructed at 250 m spatial resolution from the Moderate Resolution Image Spectro-radiometer (MODIS) sensor. Interpolated rainfall data is used to isolate NDVI values departing from the normal seasonal cycles. Month-to-month NDVI comparison, linear temporal trend analysis and Principal Component Analysis enable to identify a 11 × 4 km area over which ash fallout significantly affected the state of the vegetation. After the eruption's end, time series of various recovery indices highlight a circumferential pattern in vegetation recovery. The estimated recovery time varies from more than 5 years to less than 6 months with increasing distance from the volcano. A non-linear moderate, but statistically significant, relationship is found between the recovery indices and the spatial variation of ash thicknesses measured in the field. Combining field and remote sensing constraints enable to re-assess the volume of the eruption to~2 × 10 7 m 3 . The spatial pattern of the ash-affected area matches with the spatial contrast in the impact experienced by the local communities. The method applied here opens the scope to document impact and intensity of ash fallout in areas where systematic field work is not possible and to support recovery plans for populations affected by ash fallout.