Vegetation cover and carbon pool loss assessment due to extreme weather induced disaster in Mandakini valley, Western Himalaya

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Yogesh Kumar
Sanjay Babu

Abstract

Sendai Framework for 2015-2030 emphasises on the damage and loss assessment needs and its ecosystem level impacts. We have assessed the loss of forest cover and phytomass/carbon pool in the natural forest ecosystems lost due to extreme weather conditions leading flash floods and landslides during Kedarnath tragedy on June 17, 2013 in Mandakini Valley, Uttarakhand in Western Himalaya. We used high resolution satellite IRS LISS IV (5.8 m spatial resolution) of pre-disaster (2012) & post-disaster (2013). Since lost vegetation cannot be ground inventoried, a new approach was developed wherein we used pre-disaster spectral characteristics to identify  sample locations in nearby and adjacent to affected areas. We laid 45 geotagged sample plots in May 2014 on both side of the 37 landslide affected areas within a distance of 2 km from river-bed for primary data collection. Above ground biomass and Carbon was estimated using standard protocols and used species-specific volumetric equations and wood density. Above ground biomass varied from 18.05t/ha in Alpine Scrub to 252.95 t/ha in Subtropical forests. Assuming that the biomass increment and spectral properties would not change significantly, we applied several vegetation indices to get best regression model with biomass.  We found NDVI (2014) with coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.893, SE± 0.038 with linear function as the best for geospatial modelling of the biomass for pre-flood 2013 and post-flood 2014 situations. Coefficient of determination (R²) between estimated vis-à-vis modelled biomass was 0.8643. It is found that there is a net loss of 52,055.80 tonnes of forest biomass and 24,466.14 tonnes of carbon due to landslides and flash floods. The maximum biomass/carbon was lost in the sub-tropical forests. The loss of forest cover was maximum in subtropical forests.

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How to Cite
Kumar, Y., Babu, S. ., & Singh, S. (2020). Vegetation cover and carbon pool loss assessment due to extreme weather induced disaster in Mandakini valley, Western Himalaya. Environment Conservation Journal, 21(1&2), 49-62. https://doi.org/10.36953/ECJ.2020.211206

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