Wetlands provide valuable ecosystem services and play a central role in global carbon cycling. Changes in rainfall and the flood-pulse are likely to disrupt the processes that maintain these landscapes; further, landscape modification may dramatically alter wetlands and promote terrestrialization. The Pantanal, South America, is the world's largest wetland due to flooding along the Upper Paraguay River. Predicting how water resources in the Pantanal may change is problematic due to a complex drainage network, resulting in the out-of-phase timing of rainfall and the flood pulse. We use remote sensing data of vegetation and climate to better understand the relationships among the rains, the flood pulse, and vegetation. Although rainfall is regionally synchronous, vegetation responses differ based on position relative to inundated areas. Away from rivers, vegetation greening occurs immediately following rainfall. Along channels, greening may lag rainfall by six months, responding closely to local flood stage. Interannual rainfall variability also impacts vegetation differently near flooded areas, with weaker, lagged responses to rainfall due to local water storage. This work suggests that the importance of flood pulse timing for vegetation productivity in inundated areas means that local conditions in wetlands may be the strongest controls on biogeochemical processes.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Environmental Research Letters, v. 14, no. 12.

© 2019 The Author(s)

Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information 

Funding for this project came from the National Geographic Society (9797-15) and the US National Science Foundation (1541247), and partial funding by Embrapa grant number Also, we thank the Fundação de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento do Ensino, Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Mato Grosso do Sul (FUNDECT − 083/2016), the Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul - Campus do Pantanal (UFMS/CPAN) for institutional support and the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development – CNPq (431253/2018-8).

ERL_14_12_124017_suppdata.pdf (1109 kB)
Supplementary data