Research highlight

Peatland carbon loss

Nature Geoscience

October 13, 2008

Water loss will exacerbate peatland degradation, resulting in more soil carbon being released as carbon dioxide as surface temperatures rise, suggests a study online this week in Nature Geoscience.

Peatlands store large amounts of carbon owing to the low rates of carbon breakdown in cold, waterlogged soils. Takeshi Ise and colleagues use a soil physical?biogeochemical-coupled model to examine the effect of water table height on peatland decomposition. Lowering the water table increases peat loss, which further enhances water loss, setting in motion a positive feedback that significantly increases decomposition of soil organic carbon under climate change. In a long-term simulation, an experimental warming of 4 degrees Celsius causes soil organic carbon loss of 40% from shallow peat and 86% from deep peat, when these feedbacks are included.



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doi: 10.1038/ngeo331

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