Date of Graduation
This study investigated the remote sensing of aboveground biomass in reclaimed surface mine reclamation sites and the carbon (C) storage potential of these sites. The research is structured in three sections. In the first study, the potential for utilizing the tasseled cap (TC) spectral transformation to characterize multi-temporal changes of vegetation growth was investigated within nine reclaimed coal surface mines in Monongalia and Preston Counties, West Virginia. The spectral patterns of TC greenness, brightness and wetness values associated with the minesites were investigated for a multi-temporal series of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images, from 1992 to 2007. In general, most of the minesites at the time of mining showed increased brightness, and decreased greenness and wetness, with a reverse of this pattern during reclamation. However, rainfall appears to be a confounding variable, at least for relatively recently reclaimed sites. Spectral change vector analysis (CVA) was found to be effective for summarizing the patterns of change in TC values before and after reclamation. In the second study, field samples were collected from reclaimed grassland minesites and used to estimate biomass and C accumulation. In general, biomass and C increased in the six years following reclamation, and then slowly declined. Three Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) images, from April, May and September of 2007, were used to assess four vegetation indices (VIs), TC, and red and near infrared radiance for potential for mapping biomass. For the April 3 Landsat image, the vegetation indices were not statistically correlated with field-measured biomass, and nor were the regression models significant. For the May 13 image, TC greenness and EVI were most strongly correlated with biomass, with TC wetness, NDVI, TVI and SAVI all significant at the 0.05 level. A number of regression models that included age since reclamation and spectral indices for May 13 were statistically significant, with the strongest prediction obtained from EVI. For the September 18 image, the correlation of biomass and TC brightness, TM4 and TVI were all statistically significant at the 0.05 level, although regression models that included age since reclamation as a dummy variable were not significant. In the third and final study, the biophysical potential for terrestrial aboveground C storage in minelands reclaimed to grasslands was investigated at the regional and state scale. Although above-ground annual accumulation of C is low in grasslands, if the aboveground biomass were harvested annually, and stored permanently C storage over 20 years on the grasslands of reclaimed minelands in West Virginia could be 3.60-7.32 Tg C, compared to 1.60 -9.80 Tg C if those same sites were reclaimed to forests. Although there is currently only limited usage of harvested hay for purposes that would result in its long-term storage, this study points to the benefits that would accrue if such mechanisms could be developed.
Kazar, Sheila A., "Reclaimed surface mine terrestrial pools: Integrating remote sensing, spatial data and field work." (2011). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9158.