In our new paper, led by my former graduate student Mainul Islam, we contribute a new line of evidence assessing cyclonic impacts on mangrove forests. The work was recently published in the journal Coasts. We’re very proud of Mainul because it is his first publication and the study area, Sundarbans, is in his home country of Bangladesh. It’s great to collaborate with a scientist native to this area!

Cyclones are a key disturbance in mangrove ecosystems, but it is challenging to assess post-storm impacts over large areas, along with the recovery of these systems at broad temporal scales. Given the high frequency of these events in the Sundarbans region, prompt and consistent assessment of vegetation conditions is an important research need. Several studies have assessed the impact of an extreme cyclone event in 2007 (Sidr); however, there is little agreement between the extent and severity of the disturbance footprint of the cyclone, and very few studies attempted to assess vegetation recovery. We used a MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) time series (2001–2010) to calculate monthly plant productivity anomalies in Google Earth Engine. We summarized dry season anomalies to assess post-storm vegetation change and evaluate the recovery time. Approximately 2100 km2, primarily on the east side, were impacted by Sidr. The number of damaged pixels was reduced by 55% the following dry season (2008) and 93% in the dry season of 2009, indicating a near-full recovery 26 months after the event. Our results provide an additional line of evidence to provide a rapid assessment of the post-storm vegetation damage. The simple framework used can provide a comprehensive view of the extent of the damage, including lag effects on vegetation, in just a matter of months after the event.

Top image: The Sundarbans, Bangladesh as viewed from the Sentinel-2 satellite (Bands 11-7-5).