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Local Spatial Heterogeneity of Holocene Carbon Accumulation throughout the Peat Profile of an Ombrotrophic Northern Minnesota Bog

  • Karis J McFarlane (a1), Paul J Hanson (a2), Colleen M Iversen (a2), Jana R Phillips (a2) and Deanne J Brice (a2)...


We evaluated the spatial heterogeneity of historical carbon accumulation rates in a forested, ombrotrophic bog in Minnesota to aid understanding of responses to an ongoing decade-long warming manipulation. Eighteen peat cores indicated that the bog has been accumulating carbon for over 11,000 years, to yield 176±40 kg C m−2 to 225±58 cm of peat depth. Estimated peat basal ages ranged from 5100 to 11,100 cal BP. The long-term apparent rate of carbon accumulation over the entire peat profile was 22±2 kg C m−2 yr−1. Plot location within the study area did not affect carbon accumulation rates, but estimated basal ages were younger in profiles from plots closer to the bog lagg and farther from the bog outlet. In addition, carbon accumulation varied considerably over time. Early Holocene net carbon accumulation rates were 30±6 g C m−2 yr−1. Around 3300 calendar BP, net carbon accumulation rates dropped to 15±8 g C m−2 yr−1 until the last century when net accumulation rates increased again to 74±57 g C m−2 yr−1. During this period of low accumulation, regional droughts may have lowered the water table, allowing for enhanced aerobic decomposition and making the bog more susceptible to fire. These results suggest that experimental warming treatments, as well as a future warmer climate may reduce net carbon accumulation in peat in this and other southern boreal peatlands. Furthermore, our we caution against historical interpretations extrapolated from one or a few peat cores.

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