Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
07 Feb 2018
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Multi-source global wetland mapping: combining surface water imagery and groundwater constraints
Ardalan Tootchi, Anne Jost, and Agnès Ducharne Sorbonne Université, CNRS, EPHE, Milieux environnementaux, transferts et interaction dans les hydrosystèmes et les sols, Metis, F-75005 Paris, France
Abstract. Wetlands are important players in the Earth climate system because of their effect on ecosystems, river discharge, water quality, and through their feedback effects on atmosphere by increasing methane emission and evapotranspiration. Many datasets have been developed for open water and wetland mapping, based on three main methods: (i) compiling national/regional wetland maps; (ii) identifying inundated areas by satellite imagery; (iii) delineating wetlands as areas with shallow water table depths. There is a massive disagreement, however, between the resulting wetland extent estimates (from 3 to 21 % of the land surface area). To reconcile these differences, we propose composite wetland (CW) maps consisting of two classes of wetlands: (1) regularly flooded wetlands (RFWs) which are obtained by overlapping selected open-water and inundation datasets, and cover 9.7 % of the land surface area; (2) scattered groundwater wetlands (SGWs), derived either from direct groundwater modelling or simplified modelling based on the topographic index (TI), using several variants. In this framework, wetlands are defined as zones that are either inundated or where the groundwater is sufficiently close to the surface to maintain near saturated soil surface. By combining RFW and different SGW maps, seven CW maps are generated, which correspond to contemporary potential wetlands, i.e. the areas that would turn into actual wetlands under the present climate assuming no human influence. They are produced at the 15 arc-sec resolution (almost 500 m at the Equator) using geographic information system (GIS) tools. Two CW maps, showing the best overall match with the available evaluation datasets, are eventually selected. Wetlands in these maps respectively cover 21.1 and 21.6 % of the global land area, which is in the high end of the literature range, along with recent estimates also recognizing the contribution of groundwater-driven wetlands. The two proposed composite maps agree massively about six major wetland hotspots, which include 75 % of the global wetlands, and concentrate in the boreal, tropical, and coastal zones. The high wetland density in the tropics is brought by the SGWs, which allows detecting wetlands under dense canopy and cloud cover. Another major feature of the two CW maps, brought by the SGWs and the high resolution of the maps, is the identification of many small and scattered wetlands, which cover less than 5 % of the land area, but are very important for hydrological and ecological functioning in temperate to arid areas. By distinguishing the RFWs and SGWs globally based on uniform principles, we eventually propose a simple wetland classification focused on hydrologic functioning, believed to be very useful for large-scale land surface modelling.

Citation: Tootchi, A., Jost, A., and Ducharne, A.: Multi-source global wetland mapping: combining surface water imagery and groundwater constraints, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,, in review, 2018.
Ardalan Tootchi et al.
Ardalan Tootchi et al.
Ardalan Tootchi et al.


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Short summary
There is a massive disagreement between wetland extent estimates in literature (3 to 21 % of the land surface area). Some inundated wetlands could be detected using satellite imagery while non-inundated ones and those below vegetation are not easily detectedable. We mapped all wetlands, using both satellite data and geomorphological information, showing large wetland over boreal and tropical zones plus thousands of small oases in arid areas.
There is a massive disagreement between wetland extent estimates in literature (3 to 21 % of the...