Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-383
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-383

  05 Nov 2020

05 Nov 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Microbial activity, methane production, and carbon storage in Early Holocene North Sea peats

Tanya J. R. Lippmann1,, Michiel H. in 't Zandt2,3,, Nathalie N. L. Van der Putten1, Freek S. Busschers4, Marc P. Hijma5, Pieter van der Velden3, Tim de Groot6, Zicarlo van Aalderen1, Ove H. Meisel1,3, Caroline P. Slomp3,7, Helge Niemann6,7,8, Mike S. M. Jetten2,3,9, Han A. J. Dolman1,3, and Cornelia U. Welte2,9 Tanya J. R. Lippmann et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 2Department of Microbiology, Institute for Water and Wetland Research, Radboud University, Heyendaalseweg 135, 6525 AJ Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • 3Netherlands Earth System Science Center, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 4TNO - Geological Survey of the Netherlands, Princetonlaan 6, 3508 TA, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 5Department of Applied Geology and Geophysics, Deltares Research Institute, Daltonlaan 600, 3584 BK Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 6Department of Microbiology & Biogeochemistry, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Landsdiep 4, 1797 SZ ‘t Horntje, the Netherlands
  • 7Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Princetonlaan 8a 3584 CB Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 8Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate (CAGE), Environment and Climate, Department of Geosciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway
  • 9Soehngen Institute of Anaerobic Microbiology, Radboud University, Heyendaalseweg 135, 6525 AJ Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Northern latitude peatlands act as important carbon sources and sinks but little is known about the greenhouse gas (GHG) budget of peatlands submerged beneath the North Sea during the last glacial-interglacial transition.

We found that whilst peat formation was diachronous, commencing between 13,680 and 8,360 calibrated years before the present, stratigraphic layering and local vegetation succession were consistent across a large study area. The CH4 concentrations of the sediment pore waters were low at most sites, with the exception of two locations, and the stored carbon was large.

Incubation experiments in the laboratory revealed molecular signatures of methanogenic archaea, with strong increases in rates of activity upon methylated substrate amendment. Remarkably, methanotrophic activity and the respective diagnostic molecular signatures could be not be detected. Heterotrophic Bathyarchaeia dominated the archaeal communities and bacterial populations were dominated by candidate phylum JS1 bacteria.

Although CH4 accumulation is low at most sites, the presence of in situ methanogenic micro-organisms, the absence of methanotrophy, and large widespread stores of carbon hold the potential for GHG production if catalysed by a change in environmental conditions. Despite being earmarked as a critical source of CH4 seepage, seepage from these basal-peat deposits is restricted, as evidenced by low in situ CH4 concentrations.

Tanya J. R. Lippmann et al.

 
Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Tanya J. R. Lippmann et al.

Tanya J. R. Lippmann et al.

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Short summary
This paper is a step towards understanding the roles of microbial species at the ecosystem scale. The presence of methane, in situ methanogenic micro-organisms, the absence of methanotrophy, consistent vegetation, and large widespread stores of carbon hold the potential for GHG production if catalysed by a change in environmental conditions. Quantification of methane and carbon stores in Early Holocene submerged North Sea peatlands reduces uncertainty in global accounting.
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