Multi-scale analysis of disturbance regimes in the northern Chihuahuan Desert

Stephen R. Yool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Remote sensing facilitates cross-scale validation, enables analysis of processes and patterns in time and space, and is thus viable for the conduct of earth system science. Multi-scale analyses of natural vegetation patterns and processes in the northern Chihuahuan Desert show that natural vegetation is capable of recovering from short-term, high intensity disturbances such as an atomic bomb blast. In contrast, mesquite dunelands persist on other sites grazed before the blast, showing the Chihuahuan is less resilient to long-term low intensity disturbances. A geographic information system (GIS) was used to register historical Landsat Multi-Spectral Scanner (MSS) data acquired over Trinity National Historic Site (TNHS), New Mexico, and the vicinity. Aerial and ground photography provide supporting detail, at finer scales, regarding the distribution and pattern of natural vegetation at TNHS Ground Zero and adjacent weapons impact targets. Aside from initial mechanical or thermal damage to vegetation from the first atomic test over a half century ago, analyses of vegetation at satellite and airphoto scales show no apparent persistent blast effects around TNHS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)467-483
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1998


  • Arid environments
  • GIS
  • Nuclear testing
  • Remote sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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