Rates of peat accumulation over the past 200 years in five Sphagnum-dominated peatlands in the United States.

Using210Pb-dating of peat cores, corroborated by pollen and acid-insoluble ash approaches, rates of vertical height growth, dry mass accumulation, and organic matter accumulation were determined for fiveSphagnum-dominated peatland sites (one in Minnesota, one in Pennsylvania, one on the Maryland/West Virginia border, two in West Virginia), spanning a mean annual temperature range of 4.5 degreesC and differing in total annual precipitation by a factor of almost 2. Site differences in rates of vertical height growth and dry mass accumulation were documented, but both within-core and between-site differences in bulk density and ash concentrations of peat confound efforts to relate vertical height growth and dry mass accumulation to net organic matter accumulation. Taking bulk densities and ash concentrations into account, rates of net organic matter accumulation over the past 150-200 years were strikingly similar at four of the five sites, an unexpected result given the general trend that with decreasing latitude, peat deposits become older, thinner, and more highly decomposed. More comprehensive studies are needed in which net organic matter accumulation is determined at several locations within a single peatland, at several peatlands within a particular geographic/climatic region, and at peatland sites in different geographic/climatic regions. If additional studies confirm that recent (past 200 years) net organic matter accumulation is relatively insensitive to broad-scale regional climatic differences, boreal and subarctic peatlands may continue to function as a net sink for atmospheric CO2 and a net source of atmospheric CH4 with no change in rates of net organic matter accumulation, even under predicted scenarios of global climate change.

Main Author: Wieder, R Kelman.
Other Authors: Novak, Martin., Schell, William., Rhodes, Thomas.
Format: Villanova Faculty Authorship
Language: English
Published: 1994
Online Access: http://ezproxy.villanova.edu/login?url=https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:179360