Remote Sensing of the Distribution and Extent of Wetlands in the Amazon Basin

  • John M. MelackEmail author
  • Laura L. Hess
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 210)


Basin-wide mosaics of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, validated with airborne videography, were used to map the extent and distribution of Amazonian wetlands. Cover states consisted of classes determined by vegetation physiognomy (non-vegetated, herbaceous, shrub, woodland, and forest) and by inundation state (flooded or non-flooded). About one-fourth of wetlands are in the Madeira basin. Large wetland features occur in the Marañón (Marañón-Ucayali palm swamps), Negro (Roraima savanna; Negro-Branco interfluvial wetlands), and Madeira (Llanos de Moxos) basins. The mainstem Amazon floodplain, with less than 2% of the total basin area, accounts for about 12% of the basin’s wetlands. Basin-wide, about three-fourths of wetlands are covered by forest, woodland or shrubland. All large watersheds west of the Negro are at least 85% forested. The Madeira basin has the highest percentage of herbaceous wetlands. Numerous remote sensing studies of wetlands using SAR, passive microwave and optical data for selected areas that complement these basin-wide values are summarized.


Synthetic Aperture Radar Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Amazon Basin Synthetic Aperture Radar Image Floodplain Forest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bren School of Environmental Science and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Computational Earth System ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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