Skip to main content
SLU:s publikationsdatabas (SLUpub)

Forskningsartikel2024Vetenskapligt granskad

Climatic controls on the dynamic lateral expansion of northern peatlands and its potential implication for the 'anomalous' atmospheric CH4 rise since the mid-Holocene

Peng, Haijun; Nijp, Jelmer J.; Ratcliffe, Joshua L.; Li, Chuxian; Hong, Bing; Lidberg, William; Zeng, Mengxiu; Mauquoy, Dmitri; Bishop, Kevin; Nilsson, Mats B.


Understanding the dynamic changes in peatland area during the Holocene is essential for unraveling the connections between northern peatland development and global carbon budgets. However, studies investigating the centennial to millennial -scale process of peatland expansion and its climate and environmental drivers are still limited. In this study, we present a reconstruction of the peatland area and lateral peatland expansion rate of a peatland complex in northern Sweden since the mid -Holocene, based on Ground Penetrating Radar measurements of peat thickness supported by radiocarbon (14C) dates from four peat cores. Based on this analysis, lateral expansion of the peatland followed a northwest -southeast directionality, constrained by the undulating post-glacial topography. The areal extent of peat has increased non -linearly since the mid -Holocene, and the peatland lateral expansion rate has generally been on the rise, with intensified expansion occurring after around 3500 cal yr BP. Abrupt declines in lateral expansion rates were synchronized with the decreases in total solar irradiance superimposed on the millennial ice -rafted debris events in the northern high latitudes. Supported by the temporal evolution of peatland extent in four other Fennoscandian peatlands, it appears that the northern peatland areal extent during the early to middle Holocene was much smaller compared to previous empirical model reconstructions based on basal age compilations. Interestingly, our reconstruction shows the increments of peat area since the mid -Holocene coincide with the rise in atmospheric CH4 concentration, and that abrupt variations in atmospheric CH4 on decadal to centennial timescales could be synchronized with peatland lateral expansion rates. Based on our analysis we put forward the hypothesis that lateral expansion of northern peatlands is a significant driver of dynamics in the late Holocene atmospheric CH4 budget. We strongly urge for more empirical data to quantify lateral expansion rates and test such hypotheses.


Methane; Holocene; Peatland; Lateral expansion; Climate control

Publicerad i

Science of the Total Environment
2024, Volym: 908, artikelnummer: 168450
Utgivare: ELSEVIER