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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Methane Production Pathway Regulated Proximally by Substrate Availability and Distally by Temperature in a High‐Latitude Mire Complex

  • Author(s): Chang, Kuang‐Yu
  • Riley, William J
  • Brodie, Eoin L
  • McCalley, Carmody K
  • Crill, Patrick M
  • Grant, Robert F
  • et al.

© 2019. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Projected 21st century changes in high-latitude climate are expected to have significant impacts on permafrost thaw, which could cause substantial increases in emissions to the atmosphere of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4, which has a global warming potential 28 times larger than CO2 over a 100-year horizon). However, predicted CH4 emission rates are very uncertain due to difficulties in modeling complex interactions among hydrological, thermal, biogeochemical, and plant processes. Methanogenic production pathways (i.e., acetoclastic [AM] and hydrogenotrophic [HM]) and the magnitude of CH4 emissions may both change as permafrost thaws, but a mechanistic analysis of controls on such shifts in CH4 dynamics is lacking. In this study, we reproduced observed shifts in CH4 emissions and production pathways with a comprehensive biogeochemical model (ecosys) at the Stordalen Mire in subarctic Sweden. Our results demonstrate that soil temperature changes differently affect AM and HM substrate availability, which regulates magnitudes of AM, HM, and thereby net CH4 emissions. We predict very large landscape-scale, vertical, and temporal variations in the modeled HM fraction, highlighting that measurement strategies for metrics that compare CH4 production pathways could benefit from model informed scale of temporal and spatial variance. Finally, our findings suggest that the warming and wetting trends projected in northern peatlands could enhance peatland AM fraction and CH4 emissions even without further permafrost degradation.

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