Wetlands are ecologically dynamic land areas that support more biological diversity than any other type of ecosystem on the planet. In addition to supporting an astonishing variety of plants and animals, wetlands filter and purify water, control flooding, and stabilize shorelines. However, as sources of fish, fuel, and water, wetlands are being threatened around the globe as the demand for these resources and land development grow.
Remote sensing provides a means of locating and studying wetlands. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) bounces a microwave radar signal off the surface of Earth to detect physical properties. Unlike optical technology, SAR can see through darkness, clouds, and rain. The characteristics of SAR make it a particularly effective tool for measuring moisture inundation, seasonal variations in water levels or habitat, large-scale vegetation patterns, and the effects of natural or human disturbance on wetland areas.
Wetlands ecosystems’ sensitivity to climate fluctuations makes monitoring these areas crucial. The Wetlands MEaSUREs dataset holds SAR maps of these areas.
Spaceborne microwave remote sensing offers effective tools for characterizing wetlands, as microwave sensors are particularly sensitive to surface water and to vegetation structure, allowing monitoring of large, inaccessible areas on a temporal basis regardless of atmospheric conditions or solar illumination. Inundated wetlands can be consistently mapped and characterized with microwave remote sensing instruments, employed alone or in combination.
View Wetlands MEaSUREs data products’ spatial and temporal coverage. Data from ALOS PALSAR, JERS-1, and SWAMPS dataset are available.
The Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) DAAC acquired the MEaSUREs (Making Earth System Data Records for Use in Research Environments) Wetlands dataset from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 2012. The dataset contains the first level-2, derived synthetic aperture radar (SAR) products available from ASF. The dataset includes a global-scale Earth System Data Record (ESDR) of inundated wetlands to facilitate investigations on their role in climate, biogeochemistry, hydrology, and biodiversity. This ESDR provides an accurate, consistent, and comprehensive global-scale dataset of wetland inundation and vegetation, including continental-scale, multi-temporal, and multi-year monthly inundation dynamics at varying scales.
ASF DAAC’s Time Series Tool can be used to generate a graph of wetlands inundation and/or snow cover. To generate a graph for your area of interest, select a point on the map. The resulting graph can be downloaded as either an image or CSV (text) file.