The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XL-2
11 Nov 2014
 | 11 Nov 2014

An exploratory spatial analysis of soil organic carbon distribution in Canadian eco-regions

S.-Y. Tan and J. Li

Keywords: Climate, Land Cover, Precipitation, Satellite, Soil, Spatial, Temperature, Vegetation

Abstract. As the largest carbon reservoir in ecosystems, soil accounts for more than twice as much carbon storage as that of vegetation biomass or the atmosphere. This paper examines spatial patterns of soil organic carbon (SOC) in Canadian forest areas at an eco-region scale of analysis. The goal is to explore the relationship of SOC levels with various climatological variables, including temperature and precipitation. The first Canadian forest soil database published in 1997 by the Canada Forest Service was analyzed along with other long-term eco-climatic data (1961 to 1991) including precipitation, air temperature, slope, aspect, elevation, and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from remote sensing imagery. In addition, the existing eco-region framework established by Environment Canada was evaluated for mapping SOC distribution. Exploratory spatial data analysis techniques, including spatial autocorrelation analysis, were employed to examine how forest SOC is spatially distributed in Canada. Correlation analysis and spatial regression modelling were applied to determine the dominant ecological factors influencing SOC patterns at the eco-region level. At the national scale, a spatial error regression model was developed to account for spatial dependency and to estimate SOC patterns based on ecological and ecosystem factors. Based on the significant variables derived from the spatial error model, a predictive SOC map in Canadian forest areas was generated. Although overall SOC distribution is influenced by climatic and topographic variables, distribution patterns are shown to differ significantly between eco-regions. These findings help to validate the eco-region classification framework for SOC zonation mapping in Canada.