Greening of Recently Deglaciated Lands on the Kenai Peninsula
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Poleward vegetation expansion has affected Alaska for decades and due to recently increased rates of warming, the expansion will accelerate. Glacier recession in the region has exposed land that was previously ice covered. Within a few years, initial succession begins to take place over the newly exposed land. Changes in land cover of recently deglaciated areas are affected by surface-air interactions, temperature gradients, and ecosystem development. Using data gathered from Landsat 5, 7 and 8 and previous extents of select, retreating glaciers within the Kenai Peninsula, this research examines the relationship between glaciation rates and greening. Combining historic glacier extents with Landsat images gathered from Google’s Earth Engine platform I was able to identify annual summer changes in NDVI for locations deglaciated by 1995, 2005 and 2015. The glaciers were selected based on location and average retreat rate measured between 1950 and 2005. Dinglestadt, Chernof, Petrof, Yalik, Killey, Kachemak, Lowell, and Exit are all land or lake terminating glaciers within the Kenai Peninsula. The faster retreating glaciers exhibited higher mean and maximum NDVI in their longest deglaciated regions while slower retreating glaciers showed a near constant, lower NDVI throughout the recently deglaciated foreground.
Green, Carl A (2018). Greening of Recently Deglaciated Lands on the Kenai Peninsula. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from