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EcoMetrics: environmental supporting conditions for Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems (GWDTEs)

About the Project

This project focuses on monitoring the status of Groundwater Dependent Terrestrial Ecosystems (GWDTEs) in turloughs, raised bogs and fens under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Turloughs are topographic depressions in karst, which are intermittently flooded on an annual cycle via groundwater sources and have substrate and/or ecological communities’ characteristic of wetlands. A multidisciplinary research project led by Trinity College Dublin has been carried out to investigate the ecology and conservation status of turloughs, including flora, aquatic invertebrates and algae, hydrology and hydrochemistry, soils and conservation status.

Raised bogs are raised, dome-shaped masses of peat occupying former lakes or shallow depressions in the landscape. Bogs are ombrotrophic systems, receiving water and nutrients from precipitation, and resulting an acidic environment. They are not groundwater-dependent in the traditional sense, in that the wetland system generally does not receive direct transfer of recharge or nutrients from the groundwater bodies. Instead, the groundwater bodies can act as an indirect support, maintaining upward hydraulic gradients to promote water retention within the overlying peat substrate.

Figure 1. (a) Selected raised bogs for the project, and (b) Selected fen sites Project aim EcoMetrics aims to define appropriate metrics for the water bodies that support the different groundwater dependent terrestrial ecosystems, focusing on turloughs, fens and raised bogs.

Fens are largely groundwater fed wetlands, being located in topographic hollows and fed by springs or seepages of water that has been in contact with mineral ground. Fens’ principal source of nutrients is from surface or groundwater and the substrate is an alkaline to slightly acidic peat soil. This project is focussing on calcareous fens (i.e. fed by limestone aquifers).

Figure 2. (a)View from boardwalk in Pollardstown fen, and (b) Outcrop of till subsoil in Ballymore.

Project objectives

  1. Locate and assess the status of the priority GWDTEs
  2. Collate an initial draft GWDTE dataset
  3. Develop Remote Sensing approaches to identify turloughs, raised bogs and fens
  4. Understand / define environmental supporting conditions for the water bodies that support those GWDTEs
  5. Define metrics that characterise these environmental supporting conditions
  6. Develop Remote Sensing approaches to identify environmental supporting condition metrics for turloughs, raised bogs and fens
  7. Trial these metrics across range of GWDTEs in different conditions

Figure 3. (a) Groundwater sampling in Scragh Bog, and (b) Weatherstation in Pollardstown Fen.

Method and Approach

  • Define appropriate environmental supporting condition metrics for the different GWDTEs - fens, raised bogs and turloughs
  • Develop Remote Sensing approaches for the mapping and characterisation of GWDTEs - fens, raised bogs and turloughs

Figure 4. (a) Satellite image: Sentinel-2, Clara Bog (RGB image) (20 June 2017), and (b) Drone images: Clara bog: (25 October 2018).

Research Team

 

Partners and Advisors

  • Jim Ryan (former NPWS)
  • Maurice Eakin (NPWS)
  • Nathy Gilligan (OPW)

Publications

  • S. Bhatnagar, B. Ghosh, S. Regan, O. Naughton, P. Johnston, and L. Gill, 2018. Monitoring environmental supporting conditions of a raised bog using remote sensing techniques, Proc. IAHS, 95, 1–7, 2018 - Accepted.

Conferences

  • S. Bhatnagar, B. Ghosh, S. Regan, O. Naughton, P. Johnston, and L. Gill, Monitoring environmental supporting conditions of a raised bog using remote sensing techniques, Remote Sensing and Hydrology Symposium, Cordoba, May 2018 - presentation
  • S. Bhatnagar, B. Ghosh, S. Regan, O. Naughton, P. Johnston, and L. Gill, Object based monitoring of the ecological conditions in a raised bog, 8th ESA Land Remote Sensing Advanced Workshop, Leicester, September 2018  - poster presentation

 

Project Duration: April 2017 - March 2020