08 Feb 2023
 | 08 Feb 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Mapping Global Non-Floodplain Wetlands

Charles R. Lane, Ellen D'Amico, Jay R. Christensen, Heather E. Golden, Qiusheng Wu, and Adnan Rajib

Abstract. Non-floodplain wetlands – those located outside the floodplains – have emerged as integral components to watershed resilience, contributing hydrologic and biogeochemical functions affecting watershed-scale flooding extent, drought magnitude, and water-quality maintenance. However, the absence of a global dataset of non-floodplain wetlands limits their necessary incorporation into water quality and quantity management decisions and affects wetland-focused wildlife habitat conservation outcomes. We addressed this critical need by developing a publicly available Global NFW (non-floodplain wetland) dataset, comprised of a global river-floodplain map at 90 m resolution coupled with a global ensemble wetland map incorporating multiple wetland-focused data layers. The floodplain, wetland, and non-floodplain wetland spatial data developed here were successfully validated within 21 large and heterogenous basins across the conterminous United States. We identified nearly 33 million potential non-floodplain wetlands with an estimated global extent of over 16 million km2. Non-floodplain wetland pixels comprised 53 % of globally identified wetland pixels, meaning the majority of the globe’s wetlands likely occur external to river floodplains and coastal habitats. The identified Global NFWs were typically small (median 0.039 km2), with a global median size ranging from 0.018–0.138 km2. This novel geospatial Global NFW dataset advances wetland conservation and resource-management goals while providing a foundation for global non-floodplain wetland functional assessments, facilitating non-floodplain wetland inclusion in hydrological, biogeochemical, and biological model development. The data are freely available through the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Dataset Gateway ( and through (Lane et al., 2023).

Charles R. Lane et al.

Status: open (until 05 Apr 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2023-3', Youjiang Shen, 09 Mar 2023 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2023-3', Michele Ronco, 15 Mar 2023 reply

Charles R. Lane et al.

Data sets

Global floodplains data set (GFPlain90) C. R. Lane, E. D'Amico, J. R. Christensen, H. E. Golden, Q. Wu, and A. Rajib

Global wetland data set (Global Wetlands) C. R. Lane, E. D'Amico, J. R. Christensen, H. E. Golden, Q. Wu, and A. Rajib

Global non-floodplain wetlands data set (Global NFWs) C. R. Lane, E. D'Amico, J. R. Christensen, H. E. Golden, Q. Wu, and A. Rajib

Charles R. Lane et al.


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Short summary
Non-floodplain wetlands are wetland systems that occur globally outside floodplains. They are typically unmapped, often small, and frequently destroyed. Yet they provide many benefits: improving water quality, decreasing floods, mitigating drought, and creating habitat. We developed the first global non-floodplain wetland dataset. The freely available non-floodplain wetland dataset presented herein identified ~53 % of all inland wetlands worldwide (16 million km2) occurred outside floodplains.