Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2021-58
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2021-58

  27 Jul 2021

27 Jul 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESurf.

Identification of typical eco-hydrological behaviours using InSAR allows landscape-scale mapping of peatland condition

Andrew Vincent Bradley1, Roxane Andersen2, Chris Marshall2, Andrew Sowter3, and David John Large4 Andrew Vincent Bradley et al.
  • 1Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Nottingham Geospatial Institute, Innovation Park, Jubilee Campus, Nottingham, NG7 2TU, UK
  • 2Environmental Research Institute, University of Highlands and Islands, Castle Street, Thurso, Scotland, KW14 7JD, UK
  • 3Terra Motion Limited, Ingenuity Centre, Innovation Park, Jubilee Campus, University of Nottingham, Nottingham. NG7 2TU, UK
  • 4Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, Nottingham. NG7 2RG, UK

Abstract. Better tools for rapid and reliable assessment of global peatland extent and condition are urgently needed to support action to prevent their further decline. Peatland surface motion is a response to changes in the water and gas content of a peat body regulated by the ecology and hydrology of a peatland system. Surface motion is therefore a sensitive measure of ecohydrological condition but has traditionally been impossible to measure at the landscape scale. Here we examine the potential of surface motion metrics derived from InSAR satellite radar to map peatland condition in a blanket bog landscape. We show that the timing of maximum seasonal swelling of the peat is characterized by a bimodal distribution. The first maximum is typical of steeper topographic gradients, peatland margins, degraded peatland and more often associated with ‘shrub’-dominated vegetation communities. The second maximum is typically associated with low topographic gradients often featuring pool systems, and Sphagnum dominated vegetation communities. Specific conditions associated with ‘Sphagnum’ and ‘shrub’ communities are also determined by the amplitude of swelling and average multiannual motion. Peatland restoration currently follows a re-wetting strategy, however our approach highlights that landscape setting appears to determine the optimal endpoint for restoration. Aligning expectation for restoration outcomes with landscape setting might optimise peatland stability and carbon storage. Importantly, deployment of this approach, based on surface motion dynamics, could support peatland mapping and management on a global scale.

Andrew Vincent Bradley et al.

Status: open (until 20 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on esurf-2021-58', Anonymous Referee #1, 08 Sep 2021 reply

Andrew Vincent Bradley et al.

Andrew Vincent Bradley et al.

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Short summary
The condition of peatland largely determines the capacity for it to store carbon, but peatland condition is not accurately known. Combining the knowledge of management, vegetation and detecting differences in seasonal surface movement from satellite radar data, we map peat condition. In a blanket bog landscape we discovered the presence of wetter and dryer conditions, that could help guide restoration decisions and conclude that this approach could  transfer to peat management worldwide.