Articles | Volume 8, issue 4
01 Aug 2008
 | 01 Aug 2008

Storm damage in the Black Forest caused by the winter storm "Lothar" – Part 1: Airborne damage assessment

J. Schmoeckel and C. Kottmeier

Abstract. An airborne survey of the Black Forest as affected by the winter storm "Lothar" in 1999 is performed by means of a color line scanner (CLS) with a CCD sensor, whose data in a visible and a near-infrared channel provide the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as a measure of the damage in previously intact forest areas. The camera data, height data from a digital evelation model (DEM), land use information, and soil data are georeferenced and processed in a geographic information system (GIS) to derive relationship of the damage pattern to the characteristics of the local orography and soil types. The data cover an area of 4900 km2, 2767 km2 of which were forested. The 363 detected storm damage areas with a minimum detection size of 1.5 ha amount to 0.8% of the total forest area. Visual inspections at certain sites prove that none of the larger damage areas are missed, but areas smaller than 1.5 ha cause the total damage area to be up to twice our result, i.e. ≈1.6% of the forest area. More than 50% of the detected damaged areas are smaller than 5 ha and most of them have a size ranging from 1.5 to 3.5 ha. Forests on slopes with an inclination angle between 10 and 15 degrees show the highest fraction of damaged forest, doubling those on plains and below 5 degrees inclination angle. Forests on northwestern slopes are more affected than those on southwestern and western slopes, which faced the wind during highest wind speed occurrence. In contrast to other studies, this paper shows, that in steep areas, lee slopes are more damaged than the luv slopes. As expected, wet to moist soils represent an unstable location for the trees. But also medium-dry to dry locations that were considered to be relatively stable exhibited a highly damaged forest fraction. This can be attributed to mostly saturated soil from previous rain.