Assessing the reliability of peatland GPP measurements by remote sensing: From plot to landscape scale

Kirsten J. Lees, Myroslava Khomik, Tristan Quaife, Joanna M. Clark, Tim Hill, Daniela Klein, Jonathan Ritson, Rebekka R.E. Artz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Estimates of peatland carbon fluxes based on remote sensing data are a useful addition to monitoring methods in these remote and precious ecosystems, but there are questions as to whether large-scale estimates are reliable given the small-scale heterogeneity of many peatlands. Our objective was to consider the reliability of models based on Earth Observations for estimating ecosystem photosynthesis at different scales using the Forsinard Flows RSPB reserve in Northern Scotland as our study site. Three sites across the reserve were monitored during the growing season of 2017. One site is near-natural blanket bog, and the other two are at different stages of the restoration process after removal of commercial conifer forestry. At each site we measured small (flux chamber) and landscape scale (eddy covariance) CO2 fluxes, small scale spectral data using a handheld spectrometer, and obtained corresponding satellite data from MODIS. The variables influencing GPP at small scale, including microforms and dominant vegetation species, were assessed using exploratory factor analysis. A GPP model using land surface temperature and a measure of greenness from remote sensing data was tested and compared to chamber and eddy covariance CO2 fluxes; this model returned good results at all scales (Pearson's correlations of 0.57 to 0.71 at small scale, 0.76 to 0.86 at large scale). We found that the effect of microtopography on GPP fluxes at the study sites was spatially and temporally inconsistent, although connected to water content and vegetation species. The GPP fluxes measured using EC were larger than those using chambers at all sites, and the reliability of the TG model at different scales was dependent on the measurement methods used for calibration and validation. This suggests that GPP measurements from remote sensing are robust at all scales, but that the methods used for calibration and validation will impact accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142613
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date1 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021


  • Blanket bog
  • NDVI
  • Photosynthesis
  • Satellite
  • TG model


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