Drivers of Holocene peatland carbon accumulation across a climate gradient in northeastern North America

Dan J. Charman, Matthew J. Amesbury, William Hinchliffe, Paul D.M. Hughes, Gunnar Mallon, William H. Blake, Tim J. Daley, Angela V. Gallego-Sala, Dmitri Mauquoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Abstract Peatlands are an important component of the Holocene global carbon (C) cycle and the rate of C sequestration and storage is driven by the balance between net primary productivity and decay. A number of studies now suggest that climate is a key driver of peatland C accumulation at large spatial scales and over long timescales, with warmer conditions associated with higher rates of C accumulation. However, other factors are also likely to play a significant role in determining local carbon accumulation rates and these may modify past, present and future peatland carbon sequestration. Here, we test the importance of climate as a driver of C accumulation, compared with hydrological change, fire, nitrogen content and vegetation type, from records of C accumulation at three sites in northeastern North America, across the N–S climate gradient of raised bog distribution. Radiocarbon age models, bulk density values and %C measurements from each site are used to construct C accumulation histories commencing between 11,200 and 8000 cal. years BP. The relationship between C accumulation and environmental variables (past water table depth, fire, peat forming vegetation and nitrogen content) is assessed with linear and multivariate regression analyses. Differences in long-term rates of carbon accumulation between sites support the contention that a warmer climate with longer growing seasons results in faster rates of long-term carbon accumulation. However, mid-late Holocene accumulation rates show divergent trends, decreasing in the north but rising in the south. We hypothesise that sites close to the moisture threshold for raised bog distribution increased their growth rate in response to a cooler climate with lower evapotranspiration in the late Holocene, but net primary productivity declined over the same period in northern areas causing a decrease in C accumulation. There was no clear relationship between C accumulation and hydrological change, vegetation, nitrogen content or fire, but early successional stages of peatland growth had faster rates of C accumulation even though temperatures were probably lower at the time. We conclude that climate is the most important driver of peatland accumulation rates over millennial timescales, but that successional vegetation change is a significant additional influence. Whilst the majority of northern peatlands are likely to increase C accumulation rates under future warmer climates, those at the southern limit of distribution may show reduced rates. However, early succession peatlands that develop under future warming at the northern limits of peatland distribution are likely to have high rates of C accumulation and will compensate for some of the losses elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-119
Number of pages10
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume121
Early online date2 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015

Fingerprint

peatlands
peatland
driver
Holocene
climate
carbon
nitrogen content
accumulation rate
bogs
vegetation
primary productivity
raised bog
hydrological change
carbon sequestration
North America
Climate
Northeastern North America
Carbon
nitrogen
coolers

Keywords

  • Peatland
  • Carbon accumulation
  • Climate
  • Vegetation
  • Holocene

Cite this

Drivers of Holocene peatland carbon accumulation across a climate gradient in northeastern North America. / Charman, Dan J.; Amesbury, Matthew J.; Hinchliffe, William; Hughes, Paul D.M.; Mallon, Gunnar; Blake, William H.; Daley, Tim J.; Gallego-Sala, Angela V.; Mauquoy, Dmitri.

In: Quaternary Science Reviews, Vol. 121, 01.08.2015, p. 110-119.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Charman, DJ, Amesbury, MJ, Hinchliffe, W, Hughes, PDM, Mallon, G, Blake, WH, Daley, TJ, Gallego-Sala, AV & Mauquoy, D 2015, 'Drivers of Holocene peatland carbon accumulation across a climate gradient in northeastern North America', Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 121, pp. 110-119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.05.012
Charman, Dan J. ; Amesbury, Matthew J. ; Hinchliffe, William ; Hughes, Paul D.M. ; Mallon, Gunnar ; Blake, William H. ; Daley, Tim J. ; Gallego-Sala, Angela V. ; Mauquoy, Dmitri. / Drivers of Holocene peatland carbon accumulation across a climate gradient in northeastern North America. In: Quaternary Science Reviews. 2015 ; Vol. 121. pp. 110-119.
@article{4a1aa7be75864624a801786c1099201e,
title = "Drivers of Holocene peatland carbon accumulation across a climate gradient in northeastern North America",
abstract = "Abstract Peatlands are an important component of the Holocene global carbon (C) cycle and the rate of C sequestration and storage is driven by the balance between net primary productivity and decay. A number of studies now suggest that climate is a key driver of peatland C accumulation at large spatial scales and over long timescales, with warmer conditions associated with higher rates of C accumulation. However, other factors are also likely to play a significant role in determining local carbon accumulation rates and these may modify past, present and future peatland carbon sequestration. Here, we test the importance of climate as a driver of C accumulation, compared with hydrological change, fire, nitrogen content and vegetation type, from records of C accumulation at three sites in northeastern North America, across the N–S climate gradient of raised bog distribution. Radiocarbon age models, bulk density values and {\%}C measurements from each site are used to construct C accumulation histories commencing between 11,200 and 8000 cal. years BP. The relationship between C accumulation and environmental variables (past water table depth, fire, peat forming vegetation and nitrogen content) is assessed with linear and multivariate regression analyses. Differences in long-term rates of carbon accumulation between sites support the contention that a warmer climate with longer growing seasons results in faster rates of long-term carbon accumulation. However, mid-late Holocene accumulation rates show divergent trends, decreasing in the north but rising in the south. We hypothesise that sites close to the moisture threshold for raised bog distribution increased their growth rate in response to a cooler climate with lower evapotranspiration in the late Holocene, but net primary productivity declined over the same period in northern areas causing a decrease in C accumulation. There was no clear relationship between C accumulation and hydrological change, vegetation, nitrogen content or fire, but early successional stages of peatland growth had faster rates of C accumulation even though temperatures were probably lower at the time. We conclude that climate is the most important driver of peatland accumulation rates over millennial timescales, but that successional vegetation change is a significant additional influence. Whilst the majority of northern peatlands are likely to increase C accumulation rates under future warmer climates, those at the southern limit of distribution may show reduced rates. However, early succession peatlands that develop under future warming at the northern limits of peatland distribution are likely to have high rates of C accumulation and will compensate for some of the losses elsewhere.",
keywords = "Peatland, Carbon accumulation, Climate, Vegetation, Holocene",
author = "Charman, {Dan J.} and Amesbury, {Matthew J.} and William Hinchliffe and Hughes, {Paul D.M.} and Gunnar Mallon and Blake, {William H.} and Daley, {Tim J.} and Gallego-Sala, {Angela V.} and Dmitri Mauquoy",
note = "Date of Acceptance: 12/05/2015 Acknowledgements This research was primarily carried out as part of the UK Natural Environment Council funded PRECIP project to DC and PDMH, under grant codes E/G019851/1, NE/G020272/1, NE/GO19673/1 and NE/GO2006X/1, supported by NERC Radiocarbon Allocation 1456.1209 and NERC grant NE/I012915/1 (to DC and AGS). Sue Rouillard (University of Exeter) drafted Fig. 1. We thank two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on the paper.",
year = "2015",
month = "8",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.05.012",
language = "English",
volume = "121",
pages = "110--119",
journal = "Quaternary Science Reviews",
issn = "0277-3791",
publisher = "Elsevier",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Drivers of Holocene peatland carbon accumulation across a climate gradient in northeastern North America

AU - Charman, Dan J.

AU - Amesbury, Matthew J.

AU - Hinchliffe, William

AU - Hughes, Paul D.M.

AU - Mallon, Gunnar

AU - Blake, William H.

AU - Daley, Tim J.

AU - Gallego-Sala, Angela V.

AU - Mauquoy, Dmitri

N1 - Date of Acceptance: 12/05/2015 Acknowledgements This research was primarily carried out as part of the UK Natural Environment Council funded PRECIP project to DC and PDMH, under grant codes E/G019851/1, NE/G020272/1, NE/GO19673/1 and NE/GO2006X/1, supported by NERC Radiocarbon Allocation 1456.1209 and NERC grant NE/I012915/1 (to DC and AGS). Sue Rouillard (University of Exeter) drafted Fig. 1. We thank two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on the paper.

PY - 2015/8/1

Y1 - 2015/8/1

N2 - Abstract Peatlands are an important component of the Holocene global carbon (C) cycle and the rate of C sequestration and storage is driven by the balance between net primary productivity and decay. A number of studies now suggest that climate is a key driver of peatland C accumulation at large spatial scales and over long timescales, with warmer conditions associated with higher rates of C accumulation. However, other factors are also likely to play a significant role in determining local carbon accumulation rates and these may modify past, present and future peatland carbon sequestration. Here, we test the importance of climate as a driver of C accumulation, compared with hydrological change, fire, nitrogen content and vegetation type, from records of C accumulation at three sites in northeastern North America, across the N–S climate gradient of raised bog distribution. Radiocarbon age models, bulk density values and %C measurements from each site are used to construct C accumulation histories commencing between 11,200 and 8000 cal. years BP. The relationship between C accumulation and environmental variables (past water table depth, fire, peat forming vegetation and nitrogen content) is assessed with linear and multivariate regression analyses. Differences in long-term rates of carbon accumulation between sites support the contention that a warmer climate with longer growing seasons results in faster rates of long-term carbon accumulation. However, mid-late Holocene accumulation rates show divergent trends, decreasing in the north but rising in the south. We hypothesise that sites close to the moisture threshold for raised bog distribution increased their growth rate in response to a cooler climate with lower evapotranspiration in the late Holocene, but net primary productivity declined over the same period in northern areas causing a decrease in C accumulation. There was no clear relationship between C accumulation and hydrological change, vegetation, nitrogen content or fire, but early successional stages of peatland growth had faster rates of C accumulation even though temperatures were probably lower at the time. We conclude that climate is the most important driver of peatland accumulation rates over millennial timescales, but that successional vegetation change is a significant additional influence. Whilst the majority of northern peatlands are likely to increase C accumulation rates under future warmer climates, those at the southern limit of distribution may show reduced rates. However, early succession peatlands that develop under future warming at the northern limits of peatland distribution are likely to have high rates of C accumulation and will compensate for some of the losses elsewhere.

AB - Abstract Peatlands are an important component of the Holocene global carbon (C) cycle and the rate of C sequestration and storage is driven by the balance between net primary productivity and decay. A number of studies now suggest that climate is a key driver of peatland C accumulation at large spatial scales and over long timescales, with warmer conditions associated with higher rates of C accumulation. However, other factors are also likely to play a significant role in determining local carbon accumulation rates and these may modify past, present and future peatland carbon sequestration. Here, we test the importance of climate as a driver of C accumulation, compared with hydrological change, fire, nitrogen content and vegetation type, from records of C accumulation at three sites in northeastern North America, across the N–S climate gradient of raised bog distribution. Radiocarbon age models, bulk density values and %C measurements from each site are used to construct C accumulation histories commencing between 11,200 and 8000 cal. years BP. The relationship between C accumulation and environmental variables (past water table depth, fire, peat forming vegetation and nitrogen content) is assessed with linear and multivariate regression analyses. Differences in long-term rates of carbon accumulation between sites support the contention that a warmer climate with longer growing seasons results in faster rates of long-term carbon accumulation. However, mid-late Holocene accumulation rates show divergent trends, decreasing in the north but rising in the south. We hypothesise that sites close to the moisture threshold for raised bog distribution increased their growth rate in response to a cooler climate with lower evapotranspiration in the late Holocene, but net primary productivity declined over the same period in northern areas causing a decrease in C accumulation. There was no clear relationship between C accumulation and hydrological change, vegetation, nitrogen content or fire, but early successional stages of peatland growth had faster rates of C accumulation even though temperatures were probably lower at the time. We conclude that climate is the most important driver of peatland accumulation rates over millennial timescales, but that successional vegetation change is a significant additional influence. Whilst the majority of northern peatlands are likely to increase C accumulation rates under future warmer climates, those at the southern limit of distribution may show reduced rates. However, early succession peatlands that develop under future warming at the northern limits of peatland distribution are likely to have high rates of C accumulation and will compensate for some of the losses elsewhere.

KW - Peatland

KW - Carbon accumulation

KW - Climate

KW - Vegetation

KW - Holocene

U2 - 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.05.012

DO - 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.05.012

M3 - Article

VL - 121

SP - 110

EP - 119

JO - Quaternary Science Reviews

JF - Quaternary Science Reviews

SN - 0277-3791

ER -