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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 19, issue 1
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 195–208, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-195-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 195–208, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-195-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 13 Jan 2015

Research article | 13 Jan 2015

Monitoring of riparian vegetation response to flood disturbances using terrestrial photography

K. Džubáková2,1, P. Molnar1, K. Schindler3, and M. Trizna2 K. Džubáková et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia
  • 3Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Flood disturbance is one of the major factors impacting riparian vegetation on river floodplains. In this study we use a high-resolution ground-based camera system with near-infrared sensitivity to quantify the immediate response of riparian vegetation in an Alpine, gravel bed, braided river to flood disturbance with the use of vegetation indices. Five large floods with return periods between 1.4 and 20.1 years in the period 2008–2011 in the Maggia River were analysed to evaluate patterns of vegetation response in three distinct floodplain units (main bar, secondary bar, transitional zone) and to compare the sensitivity of seven broadband vegetation indices. The results show both a negative (damage) and positive (enhancement) response of vegetation within 1 week following the floods, with a selective impact determined by pre-flood vegetation vigour, geomorphological setting and intensity of the flood forcing. The spatial distribution of vegetation damage provides a coherent picture of floodplain response in the three floodplain units. The vegetation indices tested in a riverine environment with highly variable surface wetness, high gravel reflectance, and extensive water–soil–vegetation contact zones differ in the direction of predicted change and its spatial distribution in the range 0.7–35.8%. We conclude that vegetation response to flood disturbance may be effectively monitored by terrestrial photography with near-infrared sensitivity, with potential for long-term assessment in river management and restoration projects.

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We use a high-resolution ground-based camera system with near-infrared sensitivity to quantify the response of riparian vegetation in an Alpine river to floods with the use of vegetation indices. The vegetation showed both damage and enhancement within 1 week following floods, with a selective impact determined by pre-flood vegetation vigour, morphological setting and intensity of flood forcing. The tested vegetation indices differed in the direction of predicted change in the range 0.7-35.8%.
We use a high-resolution ground-based camera system with near-infrared sensitivity to quantify...
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