Annual greenhouse gas budget for a bog ecosystem undergoing restoration by rewetting
Abstract. Many peatlands have been drained and harvested for peat mining, agriculture, and other purposes, which has turned them from carbon (C) sinks into C emitters. Rewetting of disturbed peatlands facilitates their ecological recovery and may help them revert to carbon dioxide (CO2) sinks. However, rewetting may also cause substantial emissions of the more potent greenhouse gas (GHG) methane (CH4). Our knowledge of the exchange of CO2 and CH4 following rewetting during restoration of disturbed peatlands is currently limited. This study quantifies annual fluxes of CO2 and CH4 in a disturbed and rewetted area located in the Burns Bog Ecological Conservancy Area in Delta, BC, Canada. Burns Bog is recognized as the largest raised bog ecosystem on North America's west coast. Burns Bog was substantially reduced in size and degraded by peat mining and agriculture. Since 2005, the bog has been declared a conservancy area, with restoration efforts focusing on rewetting disturbed ecosystems to recover Sphagnum and suppress fires. Using the eddy covariance (EC) technique, we measured year-round (16 June 2015 to 15 June 2016) turbulent fluxes of CO2 and CH4 from a tower platform in an area rewetted for the last 8 years. The study area, dominated by sedges and Sphagnum, experienced a varying water table position that ranged between 7.7 (inundation) and −26.5 cm from the surface during the study year. The annual CO2 budget of the rewetted area was −179 ± 26.2 g CO2–C m−2 yr−1 (CO2 sink) and the annual CH4 budget was 17 ± 1.0 g CH4–C m−2 yr−1 (CH4 source). Gross ecosystem productivity (GEP) exceeded ecosystem respiration (Re) during summer months (June–August), causing a net CO2 uptake. In summer, high CH4 emissions (121 mg CH4–C m−2 day−1) were measured. In winter (December–February), while roughly equal magnitudes of GEP and Re made the study area CO2 neutral, very low CH4 emissions (9 mg CH4–C m−2 day−1) were observed. The key environmental factors controlling the seasonality of these exchanges were downwelling photosynthetically active radiation and 5 cm soil temperature. It appears that the high water table caused by ditch blocking suppressed Re. With low temperatures in winter, CH4 emissions were more suppressed than Re. Annual net GHG flux from CO2 and CH4 expressed in terms of CO2 equivalents (CO2 eq.) during the study period totalled −22 ± 103.1 g CO2 eq. m−2 yr−1 (net CO2 eq. sink) and 1248 ± 147.6 g CO2 eq. m−2 yr−1 (net CO2 eq. source) by using 100- and 20-year global warming potential values, respectively. Consequently, the ecosystem was almost CO2 eq. neutral during the study period expressed on a 100-year time horizon but was a significant CO2 eq. source on a 20-year time horizon.