Improving conceptual models of water and carbon transfer through peat

By: , and 
Edited by: Andrew J. BairdLisa R. BelyeaXavier ComasA.S. Reeve, and Lee D. Slater



Northern peatlands store 500 × 1015 g of organic carbon and are very sensitive to climate change. There is a strong conceptual model of sources, sinks, and pathways of carbon within peatlands, but challenges remain both in understanding the hydrogeology and the linkages between carbon cycling and peat pore water flow. In this chapter, research findings from the glacial Lake Agassiz peatlands are used to develop a conceptual framework for peatland hydrogeology and identify four challenges related to northern peatlands yet to be addressed: (1) develop a better understanding of the extent and net impact of climate-driven groundwater flushing in peatlands; (2) quantify the complexities of heterogeneity on pore water flow and, in particular, reconcile contradictions between peatland hydrogeologic interpretations and isotopic data; (3) understand the hydrogeologic implications of free-phase methane production, entrapment, and release in peatlands; and (4) quantify the impact of arctic and subarctic warming on peatland hydrogeology and its linkage to carbon cycling.

Additional publication details

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Improving conceptual models of water and carbon transfer through peat
Year Published 2009
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 11 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Carbon cycling in northern peatlands: Geophysical Monograph Series
First page 265
Last page 275