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Exploring the potential of remote sensing to estimate peatland carbon emissions

Peatlands store large amounts of terrestrial carbon (c) James Hutton Institute
"The application of remote sensing to models of carbon fluxes is a viable research method over Northern peatlands, but further work is needed to develop more comprehensive carbon cycle models"

Peatlands store large amounts of terrestrial carbon and any changes to their carbon balance could cause large changes in the greenhouse gas balance of the Earth's atmosphere. There is still much uncertainty about how the GHG dynamics of peatlands are affected by climate and land use change, while peatland restoration has been recognised as one of the ways to reach carbon emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

A research collaboration between the University of Reading and the James Hutton Institute has examined the potential of satellite-based remote sensing to provide estimates of annual carbon exchange between peatlands and the atmosphere, with added advantages in terms of cost, spatial coverage and accessibility to remote locations.

In the study, researchers describe how remote sensing can help to assess ecosystem carbon fluxes and explain the range of satellite data available for such estimations, while also highlighting cautionary issues which must be accommodated when using these methods in a peatland habitat.

The paper concludes that the application of remote sensing to models of carbon fluxes is a viable research method over Northern peatlands, but further work is needed to develop more comprehensive carbon cycle models and to improve the long-term reliability of models, particularly on peatland sites undergoing restoration.

The study Potential for using remote sensing to estimate carbon fluxes across northern peatlands – A review, by KJ Lees, T Quaife, R Artz, M Khomik and JM Clark, is in the volume 615 of Science of The Total Environment, 15th February 2018, pages 857 to 854. The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme.

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Printed from /news/exploring-potential-remote-sensing-estimate-peatland-carbon-emissions on 21/10/18 12:13:41 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.