Development of Multi-year Land Cover Data to Assess Impacts to Coastal Watersheds and the Nearshore Environment Thesis uri icon



  • Thesis (M.S., Geography)--University of Idaho, June 2014 | In the Mediterranean ecosystems of coastal California, wildfire is a common disturbance that can significantly alter vegetation in watersheds that transport sediment and nutrients to the adjacent nearshore oceanic environment. We assess the impact of two wildfires that burned in 2008 on land cover and to the nearshore environment along the Big Sur coast in central California. We created a multi-year land cover dataset to assess changes to coastal watersheds as a result of fire. This land cover dataset was then used to model changes in nonpoint source pollutants transported to the nearshore environment. Results indicate post-fire increases in percent export compared to pre-fire years and also link wildfire severity to the specific land cover changes that subsequently increase exports of pollutants and sediment to the nearshore environment. This approach is a replicable across watersheds and also provides a framework for including the nearshore environment as a value at risk terrestrial land management revolving around wildfire, including suppression, thinning, and other activities that change land cover at a landscape scale.

publication date

  • June 1, 2014