Vegetation cover and groundwater level changes over the period of restorationare the two most important indicators of the level of success in wetland ecohydrologicalrestoration. As a result of the regular presence of water and dense vegetation, the highestevapotranspiration (latent heat) rates usually occur within wetlands. Vegetation cover andevapotranspiration of large areas of restoration like that of Kissimmee River basin, SouthFlorida will be best estimated using remote sensing technique than point measurements.Kissimmee River basin has been the area of ecological restoration for some years. Thecurrent ecohydrological restoration activities were evaluated through fractional vegetationcover (FVC) changes and latent heat flux using Moderate Resolution ImagingSpectroradiometer (MODIS) data. Groundwater level data were also analyzed for selectedeight groundwater monitoring wells in the basin. Results have shown that the averagefractional vegetation cover and latent heat along 10 km buffer of Kissimmee River betweenLake Kissimmee and Lake Okeechobee was higher in 2004 than in 2000. It is evident thatover the 5-year period of time, vegetated and areas covered with wetlands have increasedsignificantly especially along the restoration corridor. Analysis of groundwater level data(2000-2004) from eight monitoring wells showed that, the average monthly level ofgroundwater was increased by 20 cm and 34 cm between 2000 and 2004, and 2000 and2003, respectively. This change was more evident for wells along the river.
Keywords: Kissimmee; MODIS; albedo; fractional vegetation cover; latent heat flux; remote sensing; wetlands.