Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems

Palm swamp forests cover large regions of the Amazon Basin, estimated over 50,000 km2. These wetland ecosystems form where seasonal flooding is moderate but surface inundation remains constant. The combination of permanently saturated soils, warm temperature year-round, and low oxygen in these palm swamp soils can lead to a large carbon release to the atmosphere, particularly as methane. Little is known about the contribution of palm swamps to the overall carbon balance of the Amazon basin. Land-atmosphere carbon flux models quantify carbon exchange between Amazonian palm swamps and the atmosphere based on consideration of the palm swamp forests as terra firme, which are known to release no methane. If palm swamps constitute a significant source of atmospheric methane, and if this methane release persists most of the year, better estimates may be obtained between methane models and atmospheric concentration measurements. Because of the widespread occurrence and expected sensitivity of these ecosystems to climate change, it is crucial to develop methods to quantify their spatial extent, inundation state, and carbon dynamics. Precise information on the extent and characteristics of palm swamps is difficult to gather because of their remoteness and difficult accessibility. Remote sensing is a unique tool for studying and monitoring these ecosystems. Microwave remote sensing, both active and passive, in particular provides the capability for acquiring images day or night, even under cloudy conditions, which are especially prevalent in tropical regions. We propose to develop a remote sensing methodology using SAR data from PALSAR to determine palm swamp distribution and QuikSCAT and AMSR-E to determine palm swamp forest inundation state on a bi-weekly basis. We will combine these products with eco-physiological information and measured surface methane release rates to assess spatially and temporally their carbon dioxide and methane release. This work is proposed to be conducted as Fundamental Research.

Project PI: Erika Podest/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

4800 Oak Grove Dr. Pasadena, CA 91109

Phone: (818) 354-6086



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Started: Sep 29, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 05, 2011


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