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

Andrew Bradley, Roxane Andersen, Christopher Marshall, Andrew Sowter, David J. Large

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEarth Surface Dynamics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2022


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