Articles | Volume 13, issue 16
Research article
16 Aug 2016
Research article |  | 16 Aug 2016

Mapping of West Siberian taiga wetland complexes using Landsat imagery: implications for methane emissions

Irina Evgenievna Terentieva, Mikhail Vladimirovich Glagolev, Elena Dmitrievna Lapshina, Alexandr Faritovich Sabrekov, and Shamil Maksyutov

Abstract. High-latitude wetlands are important for understanding climate change risks because these environments sink carbon dioxide and emit methane. However, fine-scale heterogeneity of wetland landscapes poses a serious challenge when generating regional-scale estimates of greenhouse gas fluxes from point observations. In order to reduce uncertainties at the regional scale, we mapped wetlands and water bodies in the taiga zone of The West Siberia Lowland (WSL) on a scene-by-scene basis using a supervised classification of Landsat imagery. Training data consist of high-resolution images and extensive field data collected at 28 test areas. The classification scheme aims at supporting methane inventory applications and includes seven wetland ecosystem types comprising nine wetland complexes distinguishable at the Landsat resolution. To merge typologies, mean relative areas of wetland ecosystems within each wetland complex type were estimated using high-resolution images. Accuracy assessment based on 1082 validation polygons of 10  ×  10 pixel size indicated an overall map accuracy of 79 %. The total area of the WSL wetlands and water bodies was estimated to be 52.4 Mha or 4–12 % of the global wetland area. Ridge-hollow complexes prevail in WSL's taiga zone accounting for 33 % of the total wetland area, followed by pine bogs or “ryams” (23 %), ridge-hollow-lake complexes (16 %), open fens (8 %), palsa complexes (7 %), open bogs (5 %), patterned fens (4 %), and swamps (4 %). Various oligotrophic environments are dominant among wetland ecosystems, while poor fens cover only 14 % of the area. Because of the significant change in the wetland ecosystem coverage in comparison to previous studies, a considerable reevaluation of the total CH4 emissions from the entire region is expected. A new Landsat-based map of WSL's taiga wetlands provides a benchmark for validation of coarse-resolution global land cover products and wetland data sets in high latitudes.

Short summary
West Siberia (WS) wetlands are the world’s largest high-latitude wetland system. WS methane emission estimates suffered from large uncertainty due to high emission rate variability across the wetland vegetation cover. We mapped WS taiga zone wetlands with Landsat imagery and applied wetland typology specifically developed to reflect heterogeneity of methane fluxes. The map provides a benchmark for validation of coarse-resolution land cover products and wetland data sets in high latitudes.
Final-revised paper