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Latitudinal limits to the predicted increase of the peatland carbon sink with warming

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen Mackay



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Nature Publishing Group, 2018.

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The carbon sink potential of peatlands depends on the balance between carbon uptake by plants and microbial decomposition. The rates of both these processes will increase with warming but it remains unclear which will dominate the global peatland response. Here we examine the global relationship between peatland carbon accumulation rates during the last millennium and planetary-scale climate space. A positive relationship is found between carbon accumulation and cumulative photosynthetically active radiation during the growing season for mid- to high-latitude peatlands in both hemispheres. However, this relationship reverses at lower latitudes, suggesting that carbon accumulation is lower under the warmest climate regimes. Projections under RCP2.6 and RCP8.5 scenarios indicate that the present-day global sink will increase slightly until ~2100 AD but decline thereafter. Peatlands will remain a carbon sink in the future, but their response to warming switches from a negative to a positive climate feedback (decreased carbon sink with warming) at the end of the 21st century.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gallego-Sala AV, Charman DJ, Brewer S, Page SE, Prentice IC, Friedlingstein P, Moreton S, Amesbury MA, Beilman DW, Björck S, Blyakharchuk T, Bochicchio C, Booth RK, Bunbury J, Camill P, Carless D, Chimner RA, Clifford M, Cressey E, Courtney-Mustaphi C, De Vleeschouwer F, de Jong R, Fialkiewicz-Koziel B, Finkelstein SA, Garneau M, Githumbi E, Hribjlan J, Holmquist J, Hughes PDM, Jones C, Jones MC, Karofeld E, Klein ES, Kokfelt U, Korhola A, Lacourse T, Le Roux G, Lamentowicz M, Large D, Lavoie M, Loisel J, Mackay H, Et Al

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Climate Change

Year: 2018

Volume: 8

Pages: 907-913

Online publication date: 10/09/2018

Acceptance date: 30/08/2018

Date deposited: 28/09/2018

ISSN (electronic): 1758-6798

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0271-1


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