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Forests on drained agricultural peatland are potentially large sources of greenhouse gases – insights from a full rotation period simulation

Skogaryd research station Photo: Åsa Kasimir

Forests on drained agricultural peatland are potentially large sources of greenhouse gases – insights from a full rotation period simulation

New article co-authored by Focali member Åsa Kasimir published in Biogeosciences. Through a PhD project by Hongxing He funded by the Swedish Energy Agency performed at the department of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, they show that forest production on drained peat soil is a large source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

Read a recent article (in Swedish) "Stora utsläpp av växthusgaser från skog på dränerad torvmark" from University of Gothenburg about their work or see the academic article abstract and full publication below. 

Abstract:

The CoupModel was used to simulate a Norway spruce forest on fertile drained peat over 60 years, from planting in 1951 until 2011, describing abiotic, biotic and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (CO2 and N2O). By calibrating the model against tree ring data a “vegetation fitted” model was obtained by which we were able to describe the fluxes and controlling factors over the 60 years. We discuss some conceptual issues relevant to improving the model in order to better understand peat soil simulations. However, the present model was able to describe the most important ecosystem dynamics such as the plant biomass development and GHG emissions. The GHG fluxes are composed of two important quantities, the spruce forest carbon (C) uptake, 413 g C m-2 yr-1 and the decomposition of peat soil, 399 gCm-2 yr-1. N2O emissions contribute to the GHG emissions by up to 0.7 gN m-2 yr-1, corresponding to 76 g C m-2 yr-1. The 60-year old spruce forest has an accumulated biomass of 16.0 kg C m-2 (corresponding to 60 kgCO2 m-2). However, over this period, 26.4 kg C m-2 (97 kgCO2eq m-2) has been added to the atmosphere, as both CO2 and N2O originating from the peat soil and, indirectly, from forest thinning products, which we assume have a short lifetime. We conclude that after harvest at an age of 80 years, most of the stored biomass carbon is liable to be released, the system having captured C only temporarily and with a cost of disappeared peat, adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

The full article is available here

 

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