CR 13:77-90 (1999)  -  doi:10.3354/cr013077

Radiation balance of wetland tundra at northern treeline estimated from remotely sensed data

Claude R. Duguay1,*, Wayne R. Rouse2, Peter M. Lafleur3, L. Dale Boudreau2

1Département de géographie et Centre d'études nordiques, Université Laval, Cité Universitaire Sainte-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4, Canada
2School of Geography and Geology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada
3Department of Geography, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario K9J 7B8, Canada

ABSTRACT: Traditional methods of measuring surface net radiation involve point measurements that represent only a small area surrounding the instrumented sites. Remotely sensed spaceborne data offer the means by which to obtain estimates of the outgoing fluxes at the regional scale. The objective of this study was to estimate surface albedo, surface thermal exitance, and net radiation using Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) data over wetland tundra at northern treeline near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Ground-based measurements of each component of the radiation balance were acquired at 5 locations coincident with 2 TM overpasses during summer 1991. Each location was representative of 1 of the major terrain types found in the Hudson Bay Lowlands (i.e. sedge-dominated wetland, upland lichen-heath, tundra lakes and ponds, willow/birch wetland, and open spruce-tamarack forest). The mean absolute differences between remote sensing estimates and field measurements (all sites combined) are 0.01 for albedo, 25.7 W m-2 for thermal exitance, and 14.1 W m-2 for net radiation. The 2 summer 1991 TM images (June and August) were then used to examine within and between terrain type variations in surface net radiation during the growing season. TM imagery from August 1984 and August 1991 were also utilised to investigate differences in surface fluxes between a dry year (1984) and a wet year (1991). Results indicate that surface wetness and, to a lesser extent, phenology are the 2 main factors controlling the radiation balance during the summer period in this subarctic tundra-forest landscape.

KEY WORDS: Radiation balance · Landsat Thematic Mapper · Wetlands · Treeline

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