EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

UAV and Spaceborne LiDAR Gives First Evidence of Peat Domes in the Congo Basin

Ian Davenport1, Iain McNicol1, Edward Mitchard1, Simon Lewis2,3, Donna Hawthorne4, Greta Dargie2,3, Yannick Bocko6, Ian Lawson, Andy Baird2, Susan Page5, Ifo Suspense6, and Brice Milongo6
Ian Davenport et al.
  • 1School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh EH9 3FF, UK
  • 2School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK;
  • 3Department of Geography, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
  • 4Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 9AL, UK
  • 5Department of Geography, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
  • 6Faculté des Sciences et Techniques, Université Marien Ngouabi, Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo

The peatlands of the Cuvette Centrale depression in the Congo Basin store between 6.3 and 46.8 petagrams of carbon. To improve our understanding of the genesis, development and functioning of these peatlands, we need to know if their surface is domed. Past work using satellite-based instruments has established that if the peatland surface is domed, it is very shallow, below 2‑3 m over a distance of 26km. We used a laser altimeter mounted on an unmanned airborne vehicle (UAV) to measure peat surface elevation along two transects at the edges of a peatland  to centimetre accuracy, and combined the results with an analysis of local ICESat and ICESat-2 returns. The LiDAR elevations show an upward slope inwards from both edges, and the ICESat and ICESat-2 returns suggest a peak around 1.8 m  above the edges. This matches our expectations of a rainfed peatland and, combined with prior measurements of peat depth, indicates that this peatland formed in a 3 m-deep basin.

How to cite: Davenport, I., McNicol, I., Mitchard, E., Lewis, S., Hawthorne, D., Dargie, G., Bocko, Y., Lawson, I., Baird, A., Page, S., Suspense, I., and Milongo, B.: UAV and Spaceborne LiDAR Gives First Evidence of Peat Domes in the Congo Basin, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9909,, 2020.


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