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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Warming response of peatland CO2 sink is sensitive to seasonality in warming trends

Helbig, M.; Zivkovic, T.; Alekseychik, P.; Aurela, M.; El-Madany, T. S.; Euskirchen, E. S.; Flanagan, L. B.; Griffis, T. J.; Hanson, P. J.; Hattakka, J.; Helfter, C.; Hirano, T.; Humphreys, E. R.; Kiely, G.; Kolka, R. K.; Laurila, T.; Leahy, P. G.; Lohila, A.; Mammarella, I.; Nilsson, M. B.;
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Peatlands have acted as net CO2 sinks over millennia, exerting a global climate cooling effect. Rapid warming at northern latitudes, where peatlands are abundant, can disturb their CO2 sink function. Here we show that sensitivity of peatland net CO2 exchange to warming changes in sign and magnitude across seasons, resulting in complex net CO2 sink responses. We use multiannual net CO2 exchange observations from 20 northern peatlands to show that warmer early summers are linked to increased net CO2 uptake, while warmer late summers lead to decreased net CO2 uptake. Thus, net CO2 sinks of peatlands in regions experiencing early summer warming, such as central Siberia, are more likely to persist under warmer climate conditions than are those in other regions. Our results will be useful to improve the design of future warming experiments and to better interpret large-scale trends in peatland net CO2 uptake over the coming few decades.Peatlands have historically acted as a carbon sink, but it is unclear how climate warming will affect this. The response of peatland carbon uptake to warming depends on the timing of summer warming; early warming leads to increased CO2 uptake and later warming to decreased uptake.

Published in

Nature Climate Change
2022, volume: 12, pages: 743-749

Authors' information

Helbig, M.
Dalhousie University
Zivkovic, T.
Dalhousie University
Alekseychik, P.
Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)
Aurela, M.
Finnish Meteorological Institute
El-Madany, T. S.
Max Planck Society
Euskirchen, E. S.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Flanagan, L. B.
University of Lethbridge
Griffis, T. J.
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Hanson, P. J.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Hattakka, J.
Finnish Meteorological Institute
Helfter, C.
UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)
Hirano, T.
Hokkaido University
Humphreys, E. R.
Carleton University
Kiely, G.
University College Cork
Kolka, R. K.
United States Forest Service
Laurila, T.
Finnish Meteorological Institute
Leahy, P. G.
University College Cork
Lohila, A.
Finnish Meteorological Institute
Lohila, A.
University of Helsinki
Mammarella, I.
University of Helsinki
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UKÄ Subject classification

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
Environmental Sciences
Climate Research

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