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Title: Stability of peatland carbon to rising temperatures

Peatlands contain one-third of soil carbon (C), mostly buried in deep, saturated anoxic zones (catotelm). The response of catotelm C to climate forcing is uncertain, because prior experiments have focused on surface warming. Here, we show that deep peat heating of a 2 m-thick peat column results in an exponential increase in CH 4 emissions. But, this response is due solely to surface processes and not degradation of catotelm peat. Incubations show that only the top 20–30 cm of peat from experimental plots have higher CH 4 production rates at elevated temperatures. Radiocarbon analyses demonstrate that CH 4 and CO 2 are produced primarily from decomposition of surface-derived modern photosynthate, not catotelm C. Furthermore, there are no differences in microbial abundances, dissolved organic matter concentrations or degradative enzyme activities among treatments. Our results suggest that although surface peat will respond to increasing temperature, the large reservoir of catotelm C is stable under current anoxic conditions.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [2] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8] ;  [8] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [5] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [5]
  1. Florida State Univ., Tallahassee, FL (United States). Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
  2. Univ. of Oregon, Eugene, OR (United States). Inst. of Ecology and Evolution
  3. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States). Environmental Molecular Sciences Lab.
  4. USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Grand Rapids, MN (United States)
  5. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  6. Chapman Univ., Orange, CA (United States). Schmid College of Science and Technology
  7. Lawrence Livermore National Lab. (LLNL), Livermore, CA (United States)
  8. Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta, GA (United States). School of Biological Sciences and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723; KP1702010; ERKP788
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; AC05-76RL01830
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory; carbon cycle
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1339878