06 Apr 2021

06 Apr 2021

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

Global peatlands under future climate – seamless model projections from the Last Glacial Maximum

Jurek Müller1,2 and Fortunat Joos1,2 Jurek Müller and Fortunat Joos
  • 1Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 2Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Abstract. Peatlands are diverse wetland ecosystems distributed mostly over the northern latitudes and tropics. Globally they store a large portion of the global soil organic carbon and provide important ecosystem services. The future of these systems under continued anthropogenic warming and direct human disturbance has potentially large impacts on atmospheric CO2 and climate. We performed global long term projections of peatland area and carbon over the next 5000 years using a dynamic global vegetation model forced with climate anomalies from ten models of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6) and three scenarios. These projections are continued from a transient simulation from the Last Glacial Maximum to the present to account for the full transient history. Our results suggest short to long term net losses of global peatland area and carbon, with higher losses under higher emission scenarios. Large parts of today's active northern peatlands are at risk. Conditions for peatlands in the tropics and, in case of mitigation, eastern Asia and western north America improve. Factorial simulations reveal committed historical changes and future rising temperature as the main driver of future peatland loss and increasing precipitations as driver for regional peatland expansion. Additional simulations forced with two CMIP6 scenarios extended transiently beyond 2100, show qualitatively similar results to the standard scenarios, but highlight the importance of extended future scenarios for long term carbon cycle projections. The spread between simulations forced with different climate model anomalies suggests a large uncertainty in projected peatland variables due to uncertain climate forcing. Our study highlights the importance of quantifying the future peatland feedback to the climate system and its inclusion into future earth system model projections.

Jurek Müller and Fortunat Joos

Status: open (until 18 May 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on bg-2021-80', Anonymous Referee #1, 15 Apr 2021 reply

Jurek Müller and Fortunat Joos

Data sets

Global peatlands under future climate - seamless model projections from the Last Glacial Maximum: model output data Jurek Müller, Fortunat Joos

Jurek Müller and Fortunat Joos


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Short summary
We present long term projections of global peatland area and carbon with a continuous transient history since the Last Glacial Maximum. Our novel results show that large parts of today’s northern peatlands are at risk from past and future climate change, with larger emissions clearly connected to larger risks. The study includes comparisons between different emission and land-use scenarios, driver attribution through factorial simulations, and assessments of uncertainty from climate forcing.