The multi-annual carbon budget of a peat-covered catchment

Fred Worrall, Tim Burt, James Rowson, Jeff Warburton, John Adamson

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    This study estimates the complete carbon budget of an 11.4 km(2) peat-covered catchment in Northern England. The budget considers both fluvial and gaseous carbon fluxes and includes estimates of particulate organic carbon (POC); dissolved organic carbon (DOC); excess dissolved CO(2): release of methane (CH(4)): net ecosystem respiration of CO(2): and uptake of CO(2) by primary productivity. All components except CH(4) were measured directly in the catchment and annual carbon budgets were calculated for the catchment between 1993 and 2005 using both extrapolation and interpolation methods. The study shows that: Over the 13 year study period the total carbon balance varied between a net sink of -20 to -91 Mg C/km(2)/yr. The biggest component of this budget is the uptake of carbon by primary productivity (-178 Mg C/km(2)/yr) and in most years the second largest component is the loss of DOC from the peat profile (+39 Mg C/km(2)/yr). Direct exchanges of C with the atmosphere average -89 Mg C/km(2)/yr in the catchment. Extrapolating the general findings of the carbon budget across all UK peatlands results in an approximate carbon balance of -1.2 Tg C/yr (+/-0.4 Pg C/yr) which is larger than previously reported values. Carbon budgets should always be reported with a clear statement of the techniques used and errors involved as this is significant when comparing results across studies
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4084-4094
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Issue number13
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2009


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