EGU21-6224, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Methane emissions from high-latitude peatlands during the Holocene from a synthesis of peatland records

Claire C. Treat1,2,3, Miriam C. Jones4, Laura S. Brosius2, Guido Grosse1,5, Katey Walter Anthony2, and Steve Frolking3
Claire C. Treat et al.
  • 1Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany (
  • 2University of Alaska Fairbanks, Water and Environmental Research Center, Institute for Northern Engineering, Fairbanks, AK, USA
  • 3University of New Hampshire, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans & Space, Durham, NH, USA
  • 4U.S. Geological Survey, Florence Bascom Geoscience Center, Reston, VA, USA
  • 5University of Potsdam, Institute of Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany

The sources of atmospheric methane (CH4) during the Holocene remain widely debated, including the role of high latitude wetland and peatland expansion and fen-to-bog transitions. We reconstructed CH4 emissions from northern peatlands from 13,000 before present (BP) to present using an empirical model based on observations of peat initiation (>3600 14C dates), peatland type (>250 peat cores), and contemporary CH4 emissions in order to explore the effects of changes in wetland type and peatland expansion on CH4 emissions over the end of the late glacial and the Holocene. We find that fen area increased steadily before 8000 BP as fens formed in major wetland complexes. After 8000 BP, new fen formation continued but widespread peatland succession (to bogs) and permafrost aggradation occurred. Reconstructed CH4 emissions from peatlands increased rapidly between 10,600 BP and 6900 BP due to fen formation and expansion. Emissions stabilized after 5000 BP at 42 ± 25 Tg CH4 y-1 as high-emitting fens transitioned to lower-emitting bogs and permafrost peatlands. Widespread permafrost formation in northern peatlands after 1000 BP led to drier and colder soils which decreased CH4 emissions by 20% to 34 ± 21 Tg y-1 by the present day.


How to cite: Treat, C. C., Jones, M. C., Brosius, L. S., Grosse, G., Walter Anthony, K., and Frolking, S.: Methane emissions from high-latitude peatlands during the Holocene from a synthesis of peatland records, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6224,, 2021.

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