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Climate-related changes in peatland carbon accumulation during the last millennium

Climate-related changes in peatland carbon accumulation during the last millennium
Climate-related changes in peatland carbon accumulation during the last millennium
Peatlands are a major terrestrial carbon store and a persistent natural carbon sink during the Holocene, but there is considerable uncertainty over the fate of peatland carbon in a changing climate. It is generally assumed that higher temperatures will increase peat decay, causing a positive feedback to climate warming and contributing to the global positive carbon cycle feedback. Here we use a new extensive database of peat profiles across northern high latitudes to examine spatial and temporal patterns of carbon accumulation over the past millennium. Opposite to expectations, our results indicate a small negative carbon cycle feedback from past changes in the long-term accumulation rates of northern peatlands. Total carbon accumulated over the last 1000 yr is linearly related to contemporary growing season length and photosynthetically active radiation, suggesting that variability in net primary productivity is more important than decomposition in determining long-term carbon accumulation. Furthermore, northern peatland carbon sequestration rate declined over the climate transition from the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) to the Little Ice Age (LIA), probably because of lower LIA temperatures combined with increased cloudiness suppressing net primary productivity. Other factors including changing moisture status, peatland distribution, fire, nitrogen deposition, permafrost thaw and methane emissions will also influence future peatland carbon cycle feedbacks, but our data suggest that the carbon sequestration rate could increase over many areas of northern peatlands in a warmer future.
1726-4170
929-944
Charman, D.J.
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Beilman, D.W.
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Blaauw, M.
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Booth, R.K.
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Alm, J.
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Garneau, M.
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Hohl, V.
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Huang, Y.
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Karofeld, E.
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Le Roux, G.
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Nichols, J.E.
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Nieminen, T.M.
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MacDonald, G.M.
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Phadtare, N.R.
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Rausch, N.
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Sillasoo, Ü.
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Swindles, G.T.
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Tuittila, E.-S.
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Ukonmaanaho, L.
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Väliranta, M.
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van Bellen, S.
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van Geel, B.
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Vitt, D.H.
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Zhao, Y.
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Charman, D.J.
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Beilman, D.W.
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Blaauw, M.
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Chambers, F.M.
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Christen, J.A.
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Gallego-Sala, A.
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Harrison, S.P.
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Korhola, A.
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Yu, Z.C.
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Alm, J.
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Garneau, M.
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Hohl, V.
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Huang, Y.
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Karofeld, E.
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Le Roux, G.
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Loisel, J.
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Moschen, R.
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Nichols, J.E.
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Nieminen, T.M.
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MacDonald, G.M.
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Phadtare, N.R.
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Rausch, N.
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Sillasoo, Ü.
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Swindles, G.T.
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Tuittila, E.-S.
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Ukonmaanaho, L.
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Väliranta, M.
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van Bellen, S.
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van Geel, B.
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Vitt, D.H.
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Zhao, Y.
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Charman, D.J., Beilman, D.W., Blaauw, M., Booth, R.K., Brewer, S., Chambers, F.M., Christen, J.A., Gallego-Sala, A., Harrison, S.P., Hughes, P.D.M., Jackson, S.T., Korhola, A., Mauquoy, D., Mitchell, F.J.G., Prentice, I.C., van der Linden, M., De Vleeschouwer, F., Yu, Z.C., Alm, J., Bauer, I.E., Corish, Y.M.C., Garneau, M., Hohl, V., Huang, Y., Karofeld, E., Le Roux, G., Loisel, J., Moschen, R., Nichols, J.E., Nieminen, T.M., MacDonald, G.M., Phadtare, N.R., Rausch, N., Sillasoo, Ü., Swindles, G.T., Tuittila, E.-S., Ukonmaanaho, L., Väliranta, M., van Bellen, S., van Geel, B., Vitt, D.H. and Zhao, Y. (2013) Climate-related changes in peatland carbon accumulation during the last millennium. Biogeosciences, 10 (2), 929-944. (doi:10.5194/bg-10-929-2013).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Peatlands are a major terrestrial carbon store and a persistent natural carbon sink during the Holocene, but there is considerable uncertainty over the fate of peatland carbon in a changing climate. It is generally assumed that higher temperatures will increase peat decay, causing a positive feedback to climate warming and contributing to the global positive carbon cycle feedback. Here we use a new extensive database of peat profiles across northern high latitudes to examine spatial and temporal patterns of carbon accumulation over the past millennium. Opposite to expectations, our results indicate a small negative carbon cycle feedback from past changes in the long-term accumulation rates of northern peatlands. Total carbon accumulated over the last 1000 yr is linearly related to contemporary growing season length and photosynthetically active radiation, suggesting that variability in net primary productivity is more important than decomposition in determining long-term carbon accumulation. Furthermore, northern peatland carbon sequestration rate declined over the climate transition from the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) to the Little Ice Age (LIA), probably because of lower LIA temperatures combined with increased cloudiness suppressing net primary productivity. Other factors including changing moisture status, peatland distribution, fire, nitrogen deposition, permafrost thaw and methane emissions will also influence future peatland carbon cycle feedbacks, but our data suggest that the carbon sequestration rate could increase over many areas of northern peatlands in a warmer future.

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Published date: 2013
Organisations: Geography & Environment

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Local EPrints ID: 366951
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/366951
ISSN: 1726-4170
PURE UUID: 1b7fa71c-d248-435a-9a29-e44913a77e51

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Date deposited: 15 Jul 2014 15:46
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 02:06

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Contributors

Author: D.J. Charman
Author: D.W. Beilman
Author: M. Blaauw
Author: R.K. Booth
Author: S. Brewer
Author: F.M. Chambers
Author: J.A. Christen
Author: A. Gallego-Sala
Author: S.P. Harrison
Author: P.D.M. Hughes
Author: S.T. Jackson
Author: A. Korhola
Author: D. Mauquoy
Author: F.J.G. Mitchell
Author: I.C. Prentice
Author: M. van der Linden
Author: F. De Vleeschouwer
Author: Z.C. Yu
Author: J. Alm
Author: I.E. Bauer
Author: Y.M.C. Corish
Author: M. Garneau
Author: V. Hohl
Author: Y. Huang
Author: E. Karofeld
Author: G. Le Roux
Author: J. Loisel
Author: R. Moschen
Author: J.E. Nichols
Author: T.M. Nieminen
Author: G.M. MacDonald
Author: N.R. Phadtare
Author: N. Rausch
Author: Ü. Sillasoo
Author: G.T. Swindles
Author: E.-S. Tuittila
Author: L. Ukonmaanaho
Author: M. Väliranta
Author: S. van Bellen
Author: B. van Geel
Author: D.H. Vitt
Author: Y. Zhao

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