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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

The underappreciated potential of peatlands in global climate change mitigation strategies

Leifeld, J.; Menichetti, L.

Abstract

Soil carbon sequestration and avoidable emissions through peatland restoration are both strategies to tackle climate change. Here we compare their potential and environmental costs regarding nitrogen and land demand. In the event that no further areas are exploited, drained peatlands will cumulatively release 80.8 Gt carbon and 2.3 Gt nitrogen. This corresponds to a contemporary annual greenhouse gas emission of 1.91 (0.31-3.38) Gt CO2-eq. that could be saved with peatland restoration. Soil carbon sequestration on all agricultural land has comparable mitigation potential. However, additional nitrogen is needed to build up a similar carbon pool in organic matter of mineral soils, equivalent to 30-80% of the global fertilizer nitrogen application annually. Restoring peatlands is 3.4 times less nitrogen costly and involves a much smaller land area demand than mineral soil carbon sequestration, calling for a stronger consideration of peatland rehabilitation as a mitigation measure.

Published in

Nature Communications
2018, Volume: 9, article number: 1071
Publisher: NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action
    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Soil Science
    Climate Research

    Publication identifier

    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-03406-6

    Permanent link to this page (URI)

    https://res.slu.se/id/publ/94748