Export of dissolved organic carbon from peatlands under elevated carbon dioxide levels

Freeman, C.; Fenner, N.; Ostle, N.; Kang, H.; Dowrick, D.J.; Reynolds, B.; Lock, M.A.; Sleep, D. ORCID:; Hughes, J.; Hudson, J.. 2004 Export of dissolved organic carbon from peatlands under elevated carbon dioxide levels. Nature, 430 (6996 (8th July 2). 195-198.

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Peatlands represent a vast store of global carbon1. Observations of rapidly rising dissolved organic carbon concentrations in rivers draining peatlands have created concerns that those stores are beginning to destabilize2, 3. Three main factors have been put forward as potential causal mechanisms, but it appears that two alternatives—warming2, 4 and increased river discharge3—cannot offer satisfactory explanations5. Here we show that the third proposed mechanism, namely shifting trends in the proportion of annual rainfall arriving in summer6, is similarly unable to account for the trend. Instead we infer that a previously unrecognized mechanism—carbon dioxide mediated stimulation of primary productivity—is responsible. Under elevated carbon dioxide levels, the proportion of dissolved organic carbon derived from recently assimilated carbon dioxide was ten times higher than that of the control cases. Concentrations of dissolved organic carbon appear far more sensitive to environmental drivers that affect net primary productivity than those affecting decomposition alone.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry > BG01 Measuring and modelling trace gas, aerosol and carbon > BG01.2 Carbon
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0028-0836
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Earth Sciences
Date made live: 17 Aug 2009 12:32 +0 (UTC)

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