First evidence of peat domes in the Congo Basin using LiDAR from a fixed-wing drone
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The world’s most extensive tropical peatlands occur in the Cuvette Centrale depression in the Congo Basin, which stores 30.6 petagrams of carbon (95% CI, 6.3–46.8). Improving our understanding of the genesis, development and functioning of these under-studied peatlands requires knowledge of their topography and, in particular, whether the peat surface is domed, as this implies a rain-fed system. Here we use a laser altimeter mounted on an unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV) to measure peat surface elevation along two transects at the edges of a peatland, in the northern Republic of Congo, to centimetre accuracy and compare the results with an analysis of nearby satellite LiDAR data (ICESat and ICESat-2). The LiDAR elevations on both transects show an upward slope from the peatland edge, suggesting a surface elevation peak of around 1.8 m over ~20 km. While modest, this domed shape is consistent with the peatland being rainfed. In-situ peat depth measurements and our LiDAR results indicate that this peatland likely formed at least 10,000 years BP in a large shallow basin ~40 km wide and ~3 m deep.
Davenport , I J , McNicol , I , Mitchard , E T A , Dargie , G , Suspense , I , Milongo , B , Bocko , Y E , Hawthorne , D , Lawson , I , Baird , A J , Page , S & Lewis , S L 2020 , ' First evidence of peat domes in the Congo Basin using LiDAR from a fixed-wing drone ' , Remote Sensing , vol. 12 , no. 14 , 2196 . https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12142196
Copyright © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
DescriptionThis work was funded by CongoPeat, a NERC Large Grant (NE/R016860/1) to S.L.L. and E.T.A.M. (UAV data collection, I.J.D. time), a NERC Open CASE Studentship to S.L.L., I.L. and G.D. and a Phillip Leverhulme Prize to S.L.L. (peat depths).
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