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Climate modelling and potential positive feedback from peatlands globally

One of the largest uncertainties in future climate predictions is how strong the positive warming feedback loop is. For the overall climate sensitivity of the land processes, coupled climate models are still looking for consensus in understanding which process will be the dominating changing response to a warmer climate: net primary productivity or respiration.
chamber measurements

Even though peatlands contain an estimated amount of 530-694 GtC, most models still ignore the potential of a carbon source from these grounds. The limited number of models including peatlands in the estimations, predicts a continued sink or a loss of carbon sink potential in the future, while field experiments suggest carbon losses as a result of warming - however not accounting for longer growing sesons and increased productivity.

In the paper "Latitudinal limits to the predicted increase of  the peatland carbon sink with warming", recently published in Nature Climate Change, the authors including LUCCI participant Svante Björck, describes how they have used the stratigraphic record of net carbon accumulation preserved by peatlands to examine the behaviour of the sink process for the last millenium. From 294 profiles a data set of carbon accumulation is created, covering globally distributed peatlands.


 

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LUCCI - Lund University Centre for studies of Carbon Cycle and Climate Interactions

Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science

Lund University

Sölvegatan 12

S-223 62 Lund, Sweden