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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-268
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-268
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  14 Aug 2020

14 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Water Flow Controls the Spatial Variability of Methane Emissions in a Northern Valley Fen Ecosystem

Hui Zhang1,2, Eeva-Stiina Tuittila3, Aino Korrensalo3, Aleksi Räsänen2,4, Tarmo Virtanen2,4, Mika Aurela5, Timo Penttilä6, Tuomas Laurila5, Stephanie Gerin5, Viivi Lindholm4, and Annalea Lohila1,5 Hui Zhang et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR), Department of Physics, P.O. Box 68 (Pietari Kalmin katu 5), University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), 00014 Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Peatland and soil ecology research group, School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, 8010 Joensuu, Finland
  • 4Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
  • 5Climate System Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute, PL 503, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
  • 6Natural Resources Institute Finland, 00790 Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Northern peatlands are projected to be crucial in future atmospheric methane (CH4) budgets and have a positive feedback on global warming. Fens receive nutrients from catchments via inflowing water and are more sensitive than bogs to climate change-caused variations in their ecohydrology. Yet, due to a lack of data detailing the impacts of moving water on microhabitats and CH4 fluxes in fens, there remains large uncertainties in predicting CH4 emissions from these sites. We measured CH4 fluxes with manual chambers over three growing seasons (2017–2019) at a northern boreal fen. To address the spatial variation at the site where a stream flows through the long and narrow valley fen, we established sample plots at varying distances from the stream. To link the variations in CH4 emissions to environmental controls, we quantified water levels, peat temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, vegetation composition and leaf area index in combination with flux measurements during the growing season in 2019. We found that due to the flowing water, there was a higher water level, lower peat temperatures, and more oxygen in the peat close to the stream, which also had the highest total leaf area and gross primary production (GPP) values but the lowest CH4 emissions. Further from the stream, the conditions were drier and produced low CH4 emissions. In contrast, CH4 emissions were highest at an intermediate distance from the stream where the oxygen concentration in the surface peat was low but GPP was still high. Our results emphasise the key role of ecohydrology in CH4 dynamics in fens, and for the first time show how a stream controls CH4 emissions in a flow-through fen. As valley fens are common peatland ecosystems from the arctic to the temperate zones, future projections of global CH4 budgets need to take flowing water features into account.

Hui Zhang et al.

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Hui Zhang et al.

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Short summary
We studied the impact of a stream on peatland microhabitats and CH4 emissions in a northern boreal fen. We found that close to the stream there were higher water levels, lower peat temperatures, and greater oxygen concentrations; these supported the highest biomass production but resulted in the lowest CH4 emissions. Further from the stream, the conditions were drier and CH4 emissions were also low. CH4 emissions were highest in the intermediate distance from the stream.
We studied the impact of a stream on peatland microhabitats and CH4 emissions in a northern...
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