Large stocks of peatland carbon and nitrogen are vulnerable to permafrost thaw

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

Over many millennia, northern peatlands have accumulated large amounts of carbon and nitrogen, thus cooling the global climate. Over shorter timescales, peatland disturbances can trigger losses of peat and release of greenhouses gases. Despite their importance to the global climate, peatlands remain poorly mapped, and the vulnerability of permafrost peatlands to warming is uncertain. This study compiles over 7,000 field observations to present a data-driven map of northern peatlands and their carbon and nitrogen stocks. We use these maps to model the impact of permafrost thaw on peatlands and find that warming will likely shift the greenhouse gas balance of northern peatlands. At present, peatlands cool the climate, but anthropogenic warming can shift them into a net source of warming.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Large stocks of peatland carbon and nitrogen are vulnerable to permafrost thaw
Series title Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
DOI 10.1073/pnas.1916387117
Volume 117
Issue 34
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Contributing office(s) Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center, Florence Bascom Geoscience Center
Description 9 p.
First page 20438
Last page 20446
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