Summer 2023 Southern Pine Beetle mortality in Lincoln County, GA
When a Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) infestation is viewed from above, the physiological decline that precedes mortality often manifests as a lighter shade of green and yellow. The red phase is the most prominent indicator of an advanced SPB infestation, but by then, the tree is essentially dead and the beetles have moved on. For monitoring purposes, systematic use of change-over-time products, such as dNDVI in HiForm, is useful for isolating where decline is occurring through any of these color phase changes, including where new spots may just be emerging. When used in combination with true color products, the analyst benefits from insights into not only where there is active decline, but also its phase. Through use of 10m Sentinel-2 imagery, the banded edges of outbreaks can be resolved, and this gives important information about the directional movement of spots or if they become inactive. This intelligence is useful when prioritizing intervention efforts, such as salvage logging, across a broadly affected landscape.
Several southern states experienced a notable Southern Pine Beetle outbreak in 2022 and 2023. These examples below show an area near Thurmond Lake northwest of Augusta in Lincoln County, GA as monitored in July of 2023. This is just west of Sumpter National Forest, SC.