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Modelling past and future peatland carbon dynamics across the pan-Arctic

Chaudhary, Nitin LU ; Westermann, Sebastian ; Lamba, Shubhangi ; Shurpali, Narasinha ; Sannel, Britta K. ; Schurgers, Guy LU ; Miller, Paul A. LU and Smith, Benjamin LU (2020) In Global Change Biology 26(7). p.4119-4133
Abstract

The majority of northern peatlands were initiated during the Holocene. Owing to their mass imbalance, they have sequestered huge amounts of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems. Although recent syntheses have filled some knowledge gaps, the extent and remoteness of many peatlands pose challenges to developing reliable regional carbon accumulation estimates from observations. In this work, we employed an individual- and patch-based dynamic global vegetation model (LPJ-GUESS) with peatland and permafrost functionality to quantify long-term carbon accumulation rates in northern peatlands and to assess the effects of historical and projected future climate change on peatland carbon balance. We combined published datasets of peat basal age to... (More)

The majority of northern peatlands were initiated during the Holocene. Owing to their mass imbalance, they have sequestered huge amounts of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems. Although recent syntheses have filled some knowledge gaps, the extent and remoteness of many peatlands pose challenges to developing reliable regional carbon accumulation estimates from observations. In this work, we employed an individual- and patch-based dynamic global vegetation model (LPJ-GUESS) with peatland and permafrost functionality to quantify long-term carbon accumulation rates in northern peatlands and to assess the effects of historical and projected future climate change on peatland carbon balance. We combined published datasets of peat basal age to form an up-to-date peat inception surface for the pan-Arctic region which we then used to constrain the model. We divided our analysis into two parts, with a focus both on the carbon accumulation changes detected within the observed peatland boundary and at pan-Arctic scale under two contrasting warming scenarios (representative concentration pathway—RCP8.5 and RCP2.6). We found that peatlands continue to act as carbon sinks under both warming scenarios, but their sink capacity will be substantially reduced under the high-warming (RCP8.5) scenario after 2050. Areas where peat production was initially hampered by permafrost and low productivity were found to accumulate more carbon because of the initial warming and moisture-rich environment due to permafrost thaw, higher precipitation and elevated CO2 levels. On the other hand, we project that areas which will experience reduced precipitation rates and those without permafrost will lose more carbon in the near future, particularly peatlands located in the European region and between 45 and 55°N latitude. Overall, we found that rapid global warming could reduce the carbon sink capacity of the northern peatlands in the coming decades.

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author
; ; ; ; ; ; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
basal age, carbon accumulation, climate change, dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs), peatland, permafrost
in
Global Change Biology
volume
26
issue
7
pages
4119 - 4133
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • pmid:32239563
  • scopus:85085150803
ISSN
1354-1013
DOI
10.1111/gcb.15099
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b56d9084-3430-4d12-b41a-e63a6dda7d14
date added to LUP
2020-06-16 14:29:28
date last changed
2020-12-01 01:58:00
@article{b56d9084-3430-4d12-b41a-e63a6dda7d14,
  abstract     = {<p>The majority of northern peatlands were initiated during the Holocene. Owing to their mass imbalance, they have sequestered huge amounts of carbon in terrestrial ecosystems. Although recent syntheses have filled some knowledge gaps, the extent and remoteness of many peatlands pose challenges to developing reliable regional carbon accumulation estimates from observations. In this work, we employed an individual- and patch-based dynamic global vegetation model (LPJ-GUESS) with peatland and permafrost functionality to quantify long-term carbon accumulation rates in northern peatlands and to assess the effects of historical and projected future climate change on peatland carbon balance. We combined published datasets of peat basal age to form an up-to-date peat inception surface for the pan-Arctic region which we then used to constrain the model. We divided our analysis into two parts, with a focus both on the carbon accumulation changes detected within the observed peatland boundary and at pan-Arctic scale under two contrasting warming scenarios (representative concentration pathway—RCP8.5 and RCP2.6). We found that peatlands continue to act as carbon sinks under both warming scenarios, but their sink capacity will be substantially reduced under the high-warming (RCP8.5) scenario after 2050. Areas where peat production was initially hampered by permafrost and low productivity were found to accumulate more carbon because of the initial warming and moisture-rich environment due to permafrost thaw, higher precipitation and elevated CO<sub>2</sub> levels. On the other hand, we project that areas which will experience reduced precipitation rates and those without permafrost will lose more carbon in the near future, particularly peatlands located in the European region and between 45 and 55°N latitude. Overall, we found that rapid global warming could reduce the carbon sink capacity of the northern peatlands in the coming decades.</p>},
  author       = {Chaudhary, Nitin and Westermann, Sebastian and Lamba, Shubhangi and Shurpali, Narasinha and Sannel, Britta K. and Schurgers, Guy and Miller, Paul A. and Smith, Benjamin},
  issn         = {1354-1013},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {7},
  pages        = {4119--4133},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Global Change Biology},
  title        = {Modelling past and future peatland carbon dynamics across the pan-Arctic},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15099},
  doi          = {10.1111/gcb.15099},
  volume       = {26},
  year         = {2020},
}