EGU24-5271, updated on 13 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Peatland IPCC emission factors in the light of new EC carbon flux time series

Nicolas Behrens1, Klaus-Holger Knorr2, and Mana Gharun3
Nicolas Behrens et al.
  • 1WWU Münster, Landschaftsökologie, Biosphere Amtosphere Interaction, Germany (
  • 2WWU Münster, Landschaftsökologie, Ecohydrology and Biogeochemical Cycles (
  • 3WWU Münster, Landschaftsökologie, Biosphere Amtosphere Interaction, Germany (

Peatlands are the world’s largest storage of soil organic carbon. While natural peatlands act as sinks of atmospheric carbon, drainage and disturbance (e.g., due to land use and climate change) turn peatlands into net carbon sources. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from drained peatlands are therefore part of national GHG-emission reports, guided by the IPCC wetlands supplement. Herein, default emission factors (EF) are defined both for drained and rewetted peatlands, the former split into tropical and boreal/temperate wetlands, the latter further sub-categorized into nutrient poor and rich peatlands. These default emission factors are to date largely based on a limited number of static chamber-based studies, many measured over relatively short periods of time (1-3 years). As carbon flux measurements on peatlands have gained more attention, recent publications have added several new datasets to the EF calculations, significantly reducing the EF and narrowing confidence intervals. However, the final values are still almost entirely derived from chamber-based measurements with inherent limitations and uncertainties.

The Eddy-Covariance (EC) method is an alternative, established method to quantify carbon fluxes from ecosystems, spatially and temporally integrated (typically every 30 min throughout the year, representing a “flux-footprint” covering a whole ecosystem). As EC-based measurements are increasingly applied and such data are now available from several disturbed peatlands over several years, it is plausible to revise the default EFs. In this study we compile global EC time series for CO2 fluxes from disturbed peatlands of different land use categories with a focus on drained and rewetted peatlands affected by no or by  minor extensive management practices.  We investigate the diurnal, seasonal and annual variability of the fluxes. The net carbon emissions are compared to the EFs currently in use. With available ancillary data such as climate, water table depths, nutrients, ecosystem type and (succession-) state of the ecosystem we asses controlling factors for carbon fluxes. This investigation yields important context to evaluate the uncertainty and reliability of default emission factors for disturbed peatlands. Additionally, we apply a process-based model (CoupModel) to an own study-site to generate a higher-tier emission factor, including seasonality and climate variations.

How to cite: Behrens, N., Knorr, K.-H., and Gharun, M.: Peatland IPCC emission factors in the light of new EC carbon flux time series, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-5271,, 2024.