Emily Geyman, '19
In recent decades, fuel accumulation, warmer temperatures, and longer fire seasons have driven up the frequency and severity of wildfires worldwide. An improved understanding of forest recovery dynamics—and their dependence on temperature, precipitation, topography, and vegetation type—is essential for developing targeted wildfire management techniques that effectively mitigate fire damage in each landscape. Using Landsat satellite data, drone-derived aerial imagery, and a variety of image analysis techniques including image classification and difference mapping, I investigate how four variables—elevation, aspect, slope, and vegetation type—have influenced the rate of forest regeneration following a 15,000-acre fire in Fishlake National Forest, Utah. I predict that steeply-sloped areas will have a slower NDVI recovery because those regions endure the most soil erosion and nutrient loss. Shallow north-facing slopes and areas populated by deciduous trees experienced the fastest NDVI rebound, while elevation had no significant effect on the rate of vegetation recovery.