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Sulfur constraints on the carbon cycle of a blanket bog peatland

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Geoffrey AbbottORCiD



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc., 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


The reduction of sulphate (SO42-) represents an alternative terminal electron acceptor for the oxidation of organic matter in peat soils. The greenhouse gas budget in peatlands will be constrained by how much a peatland can utilise SO42- reduction as an alternative to methanogenesis. Using records of atmospheric deposition and stream chemistry coupled with elemental analysis of peat soil, vegetation, particulate organic matter (POM) and dissolved organic matter (DOM), this study estimated a 23-year long sulphur (S) budget for a blanket bog-covered catchment in the North Pennines, England. The study showed that:Atmospheric deposition of total S significantly declined over the study period from 2.4 to 0.5 t S/km2/yrLong term accumulation of S into deep peat at 1 m depth averaged 127 kg S/km2/yrTotal S fluvial flux peaked as 4.5 t S/km2/yr with an average of 0.7 t S/km2/yrOn average, over 23 years, 0.25 t S/km2/yr were reduced to either mineral sulphides or hydrogen sulphide; however, in 8 out of the 23 years the catchment was a net producer of S to the streams of the catchmentAt maximum observed S reduction capacity the peatland was capable of a net removal of 71% of atmospheric S deposition. Allowing for the efficiency of energy transfer in the redox process and the oxidation state of peat organic matter means that for every mole of SO42- reduced, 1.69 moles of CO2 were produced and an average of 0.47 t C/km2/yr are diverted from methanogenesis.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Boothroyd IM, Worrall F, Moody CS, Clay GD, Abbott GD, Rose R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

Year: 2021

Volume: 126

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 09/08/2021

Acceptance date: 02/08/2021

Date deposited: 14/08/2021

ISSN (print): 2169-8953

ISSN (electronic): 2169-8961

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.


DOI: 10.1029/2021JG006435


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