Canadian Forest Service Publications

Effects of climate change on peatlands in the far north of Ontario, Canada: a synthesis. McLaughlin, J.; Webster, K. 2014. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 46: 84-102.

Year: 2014

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 36236

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Plain Language Summary

To evaluate ecosystem carbon storage and sequestration, carbon indicators need to be identified and responses to changing ecosystem processes (i.e., succession, permafrost thaw, and evapotranspiration) assessed. We summarized information from the literature and found CO2 sequestration and CH4 emissions to be highly variable. Long-term carbon accumulation, CO2 sequestration, peat depth, and peatland age were similar between dry and wet peatland features. Ponds are net CO2 emitters. Recent carbon accumulation, CH4 emission, and evapotranspiration are highest in wet features. We conclude that processes creating wet and pond conditions may increase landscape-scale CO2 and CH4 emissions to the atmosphere, weakening peatland carbon sinks. Dry conditions may reduce CH4 emissions but potentially increase peatland susceptibility to fire. Knowledge of these changes should be useful for climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessments for large landscapes but better understanding of variability in CO2, CH4, and permafrost dynamics is required to design assessments at finer scales.