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Spectral detection of near-surface moisture content and water-table position in northern peatland ecosystems

Formally Refereed
Authors: Karl M. Meingast, Michael J. Falkowski, Evan S. Kane, Lynette R. Potvin, Brian W. Benscoter, Alistair M.S. Smith, Laura L. Bourgeau-Chavez, Mary Ellen Miller
Year: 2014
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Northern Research Station
Source: Remote Sensing of Environment. 152: 536-546.


Wildland fire occurrence has been increasing in peatland ecosystems during recent decades. As such, there is a need for broadly applicable tools to detect and monitor controls on combustion such as surface peat moisture and water-table position. A field portable spectroradiometer was used to measure surface reflectance of two Sphagnum moss-dominated peatland experiments, one being an experimental study utilizing a factorial experiment of vegetation andwater-table manipulations and the other being a field site located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that is broadly representative of northern peatland ecosystems. Relationships were developed correlating spectral indices to surface moisture as well as water-table position using the surface reflectance data. Spectral convolutions, or integrations of the hyperspectral data with the relative spectral response curves of multispectral sensors, were also applied to represent spectral sensitivity of commonly used Earth observing sensors. Band ratios previously used to monitor surface moisture with these sensors were assessed. Strong relationships with surface moisture andwater-table position are evident for both the narrow-band indices as well as broad-band indices. This study also revealed a dependence of spectral relationships on changes in vegetation cover, particularly ericoid shrubs, within the vegetation manipulation experiment.


Peatland, Water table, Moisture content, Fire, Spectral, Hyperspectral


Meingast, Karl M.; Falkowski, Michael J.; Kane, Evan S.; Potvin, Lynette R.; Benscoter, Brian W.; Smith, Alistair M.S.; Bourgeau-Chavez, Laura L.; Miller, Mary Ellen. 2014. Spectral detection of near-surface moisture content and water-table position in northern peatland ecosystems. Remote Sensing of Environment. 152: 536-546.