Improving estimates of tropical peatland area, carbon storage, and greenhouse gas fluxes

I.T. Lawson, T. Kelly, P. Aplin, A. Boom, G. Dargie, F.C.H. Draper, P.N.Z.B.P. Hassan, J. Hoyos-Santillan, J. Kaduk, D. Large, W. Murphy, S.E. Page, K.H. Roucoux, S. Sjogersten, K. Tansey, M. Waldram, B.M.M. Wedeux, J. Wheeler

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    Our limited knowledge of the size of the carbon pool and exchange fluxes in forested lowland tropical peatlands represents a major gap in our understanding of the global carbon cycle. Peat deposits in several regions (e.g. the Congo Basin, much of Amazonia) are only just beginning to be mapped and characterised. Here we consider the extent to which methodological improvements and improved coordination between researchers could help to fill this gap. We review the literature on measurement of the key parameters required to calculate carbon pools and fluxes, including peatland area, peat bulk density, carbon concentration, above-ground carbon stocks, litter inputs to the peat, gaseous carbon exchange, and waterborne carbon fluxes. We identify areas where further research and better coordination are particularly needed in order to reduce the uncertainties in estimates of tropical peatland carbon pools and fluxes, thereby facilitating better-informed management of these exceptionally carbon-rich ecosystems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)327-346
    JournalWetlands Ecology and Management
    Issue number3
    Early online date31 Dec 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2015


    • Peat
    • Greenhouse gases
    • Remote sensing
    • Tropical ecology
    • Carbon cycle


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