Mapping boreal peatland ecosystem types from multitemporal radar and optical satellite imagery

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© 2017, Canadian Science Publishing. All rights reserved. The ability to distinguish peatland types at the landscape scale has implications for inventory, conservation, estimation of carbon storage, fuel loading, and postfire carbon emissions, among others. This paper presents a multisensor, multiseason remote sensing approach to delineate boreal peatland types (wooded bog, open fen, shrubby fen, treed fen) using a combination of multiple dates of L-band (24 cm) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) from ALOS PALSAR, C-band (~5.6 cm) from ERS-1 or ERS-2, and Landsat 5 TM optical remote sensing data. Imagery was first evaluated over a small test area of boreal Alberta, Canada, to determine the feasibility of using multisensor SAR and optical data to discriminate peatland types. Then object-based and (or) machine-learning classification algorithms were applied to 3.4 million ha of peatland-rich subregions of Alberta, Canada, and the 4.24 million ha region of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where peatlands are less dominant. Accuracy assessments based on field-sampled sites show high overall map accuracies (93%–94% for Alberta and Michigan), which exceed those of previous mapping efforts.

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Canadian Journal of Forest Research