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Climate-related changes in peatland carbon accumulation during the last millennium

Dan J. Charman 1 David W Beilman 2 Maarten Blaauw 3 Robert K. Booth 4 Simon Brewer 5 Frank M. Chambers 6 J. Andrés Christen 7 Angela Gallego-Sala 8, 9 Sandy P. Harrison 8, 10 Paul D. M. Hughes 11 Stephen. T. Jackson 12 Atte Korhola 13 Dmitri Mauquoy 14 Fraser. J. G. Mitchell 15 I. Colin Prentice 10, 16 Marjolein van der Linden 17 Francois de Vleeschouwer 18 Zicheng C. Yu 4 J. Alm 19 I. E. Bauer 20 Y. M. C. Corish 15 Michelle Garneau 21 V. Hohl 1 Yongsheng Huang 22 Edgar Karofeld 23 Gaël Le Roux 18 Julie Loisel 4 Robert Moschen 24 Jonathan E. Nichols 25, 26 Tiina M. Nieminen 27 Glen M. Macdonald 28 N. R. Phadtare 29 Nicole Rausch 30 Ülle Sillasoo 31 Graeme T. Swindles 32 Eeva-Stiina Tuittila 13 Liisa Ukonmaanaho 27 Minna Väliranta 13 Simon van Bellen 14 Bas van Geel 33 Dale H. Vitt 34 Yu Zhao 35
Abstract : Peatlands are a major terrestrial carbon store and a persistent natural carbon sink during the Holocene, but there is considerable uncertainty over the fate of peatland carbon in a changing climate. It is generally assumed that higher temperatures will increase peat decay, causing a positive feedback to climate warming and contributing to the global positive carbon cycle feedback. Here we use a new extensive database of peat profiles across northern high latitudes to examine spatial and temporal patterns of carbon accumulation over the past millennium. Opposite to expectations, our results indicate a small negative carbon cycle feedback from past changes in the long-term accumulation rates of northern peatlands. Total carbon accumulated over the last 1000 yr is linearly related to contemporary growing season length and photosynthetically active radiation, suggesting that variability in net primary productivity is more important than decomposition in determining long-term carbon accumulation. Furthermore, northern peatland carbon sequestration rate declined over the climate transition from the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) to the Little Ice Age (LIA), probably because of lower LIA temperatures combined with increased cloudiness suppressing net primary productivity. Other factors including changing moisture status, peatland distribution, fire, nitrogen deposition, permafrost thaw and methane emissions will also influence future peatland carbon cycle feedbacks, but our data suggest that the carbon sequestration rate could increase over many areas of northern peatlands in a warmer future.
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Dan J. Charman, David W Beilman, Maarten Blaauw, Robert K. Booth, Simon Brewer, et al.. Climate-related changes in peatland carbon accumulation during the last millennium. Biogeosciences, European Geosciences Union, 2013, vol. 10, pp. 929-944. ⟨10.5194/bg-10-929-2013⟩. ⟨hal-00980653⟩

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