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Detecting peatland drains with Object Based Image Analysis and Geoeye-1 imagery

Connolly, J., Holden, N.M.
Carbon balance and management 2017 v.12 no.1 pp. 7
carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon sequestration, cost effectiveness, discoloration, drainage, ecosystem services, emissions factor, greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gases, image analysis, peatlands, protocols, remote sensing, runoff, surveys, uncertainty, Ireland
BACKGROUND: Peatlands play an important role in the global carbon cycle. They provide important ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and storage. Drainage disturbs peatland ecosystem services. Mapping drains is difficult and expensive and their spatial extent is, in many cases, unknown. An object based image analysis (OBIA) was performed on a very high resolution satellite image (Geoeye-1) to extract information about drain location and extent on a blanket peatland in Ireland. Two accuracy assessment methods: Error matrix and the completeness, correctness and quality (CCQ) were used to assess the extracted data across the peatland and at several sub sites. The cost of the OBIA method was compared with manual digitisation and field survey. The drain maps were also used to assess the costs relating to blocking drains vs. a business-as-usual scenario and estimating the impact of each on carbon fluxes at the study site. RESULTS: The OBIA method performed well at almost all sites. Almost 500 km of drains were detected within the peatland. In the error matrix method, overall accuracy (OA) of detecting the drains was 94% and the kappa statistic was 0.66. The OA for all sub-areas, except one, was 95–97%. The CCQ was 85%, 85% and 71% respectively. The OBIA method was the most cost effective way to map peatland drains and was at least 55% cheaper than either field survey or manual digitisation, respectively. The extracted drain maps were used constrain the study area CO₂ flux which was 19% smaller than the prescribed Peatland Code value for drained peatlands. CONCLUSIONS: The OBIA method used in this study showed that it is possible to accurately extract maps of fine scale peatland drains over large areas in a cost effective manner. The development of methods to map the spatial extent of drains is important as they play a critical role in peatland carbon dynamics. The objective of this study was to extract data on the spatial extent of drains on a blanket bog in the west of Ireland. The results show that information on drain extent and location can be extracted from high resolution imagery and mapped with a high degree of accuracy. Under Article 3.4 of the Kyoto Protocol Annex 1 parties can account for greenhouse gas emission by sources and removals by sinks resulting from “wetlands drainage and rewetting”. The ability to map the spatial extent, density and location of peatlands drains means that Annex 1 parties can develop strategies for drain blocking to aid reduction of CO₂ emissions, DOC runoff and water discoloration. This paper highlights some uncertainty around using one-size-fits-all emission factors for GHG in drained peatlands and re-wetting scenarios. However, the OBIA method is robust and accurate and could be used to assess the extent of drains in peatlands across the globe aiding the refinement of peatland carbon dynamics .