Date of Award

4-17-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Geosciences

First Advisor

Jeremy Diem - Chair

Second Advisor

Jeremy Crampton

Third Advisor

John Allensworth

Abstract

Land and vegetation changes are part of the continuous and dynamic cycle of earth system variation. This research examines vegetation changes in the 21-county eco-region along coastal Georgia. The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) with Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data is used in tandem with a Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and climatic variables to determine where, and to what extent vegetation and land cover change is occurring. This research is designed around a 16 year time-series from 1990-2005. Findings were that mean NDVI values were either steady or slightly improved, and that PC1 (Healthiness) and PC2 (Time-Change) explained nearly 99 percent of the total mean variance. Healthiness declines are primarily the result of expanding urban districts and decreased soil moisture while increases are the results of restoration, and increased soil moisture. This research aims to use this analysis for the assessment of land changes as the conduit for future environmental research.

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