Potential carbon loss from Scottish peatlands under climate change

Anna Ferretto* (Corresponding Author), Rob Brooker, Matt Aitkenhead, Robin Matthews, Pete Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

The Scottish Government is committed to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 (compared to a 1990-1995 baseline). Peatlands have been recognised as a key environment for the carbon balance as they sequester and store great quantities of carbon, but they also have the potential to release it. In Scotland, peatlands cover more than 20% of the surface (more than 90% of which is blanket bog) and store more than 2500 Mt of carbon. Blanket bogs are very climate reliant and as a consequence of climate change, many areas in Scotland may not be able to support peatlands in the near future. In this study, two bioclimatic envelope models (Linsday Modified model and Blanket Bog Tree model) have been used to obtain a first estimate of how the distribution of blanket bogs in Scotland could vary according to climate change in the 2050s and in the 2080s. The potential losses of carbon arising from climate change have then been calculated. Results showed that in 2050 more than half of the carbon currently stored in Scottish blanket bogs will be at risk of loss. This is 4.4-6.6 times the amount of carbon emitted in 2016 from all the sectors in Scotland and, if emissions from peatland occur and are taken into account, it will greatly hamper efforts to meet emission reduction targets set out in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2101-2111
Number of pages11
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Volume19
Issue number7
Early online date10 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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Keywords

  • climate change
  • peatlands
  • Scotland
  • carbon stock
  • bioclimatic envelope models

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