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Management Effects on Greenhouse Gas Dynamics in Fen Ditches

Peacock, Mike; Ridley, Luke; Evans, Chris D. and Gauci, Vincent (2016). Management Effects on Greenhouse Gas Dynamics in Fen Ditches. Science of the Total Environment (In press).

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.11.005
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Abstract

Globally, large areas of peatland have been drained through the digging of ditches, generally to increase agricultural production. By lowering the water table it is often assumed that drainage reduces landscape-scale emissions of methane (CH4) into the atmosphere to negligible levels. However, drainage ditches themselves are known to be sources of CH4 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), but emissions data are scarce, particularly for carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O), and show high spatial and temporal variability. Here, we report dissolved GHGs and diffusive fluxes of CH4 and CO2 from ditches at three UK lowland fens under different management; semi-natural fen, cropland, and cropland restored to low-intensity grassland. Ditches at all three fens emitted GHGs to the atmosphere, but both fluxes and dissolved GHGs showed extensive variation both seasonally and within-site. CH4 fluxes were particularly large, with medians peaking at all three sites in August at 120-230 mg m-2 d-1. Significant between site differences were detected between the cropland and the other two sites for CO2 flux and all three dissolved GHGs, suggested that intensive agriculture has major effects on ditch biogeochemistry. Multiple regression models using environmental and water chemistry data were able to explain 29-59% of observed variation in dissolved GHGs. Annual CH4 fluxes from the ditches were 37.8, 18.3 and 27.2 g CH4 m-2 yr-1 for the semi-natural, grassland and cropland, and annual CO2 fluxes were similar (1100 to 1440 g CO2 m-2 yr-1) among sites. We suggest that fen ditches are important contributors to landscape-scale GHG emissions, particularly for CH4. Ditch emissions should be included in GHG budgets of human modified fens, particularly where drainage has removed the original terrestrial CH4 source, e.g. agricultural peatlands.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2016 Elsevier B.V.
ISSN: 1879-1026
Extra Information: 32 pp.
Keywords: peatland; carbon dioxide; methane; nitrous oxide; ditch flux; fens; wetlands
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)
OpenSpace Research Centre (OSRC)
International Development & Inclusive Innovation
Item ID: 47787
Depositing User: Michael Peacock
Date Deposited: 08 Nov 2016 09:17
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2017 01:00
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/47787
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