C mobilisation in disturbed tropical peat swamps: old DOC can fuel the fluvial efflux of old carbon dioxide, but site recovery can occur

Waldron, S. , Vihermaa, L., Evers, S., Garnett, M. H. , Newton, J. and Henderson, A. C.G. (2019) C mobilisation in disturbed tropical peat swamps: old DOC can fuel the fluvial efflux of old carbon dioxide, but site recovery can occur. Scientific Reports, 9, 11429. (doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-46534-9) (PMID:31391485) (PMCID:PMC6685963)

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Southeast-Asian peat swamp forests have been significantly logged and converted to plantation. Recently, to mitigate land degradation and C losses, some areas have been left to regenerate. Understanding how such complex land use change affects greenhouse gas emissions is essential for modelling climate feedbacks and supporting land management decisions. We carried out field research in a Malaysian swamp forest and an oil palm plantation to understand how clear-felling, drainage, and illegal and authorized conversion to oil palm impacted the C cycle, and how the C cycle may change if such logging and conversion stopped. We found that both the swamp forest and the plantation emit centuries-old CO2 from their drainage systems in the managed areas, releasing sequestered C to the atmosphere. Oil palm plantations are an iconic symbol of tropical peatland degradation, but CO2 efflux from the recently-burnt, cleared swamp forest was as old as from the oil palm plantation. However, in the swamp forest site, where logging had ceased approximately 30 years ago, the age of the CO2 efflux was modern, indicating recovery of the system can occur. 14C dating of the C pool acted as a tracer of recovery as well as degradation and offers a new tool to assess efficacy of restoration management. Methane was present in many sites, and in higher concentrations in slow-flowing anoxic systems as degassing mechanisms are not strong. Methane loading in freshwaters is rarely considered, but this may be an important C pool in restored drainage channels and should be considered in C budgets and losses.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Waldron, Professor Susan and Henderson, Dr Andrew and Newton, Dr Jason and Garnett, Dr Mark and Vihermaa, Dr Leena
Authors: Waldron, S., Vihermaa, L., Evers, S., Garnett, M. H., Newton, J., and Henderson, A. C.G.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 9: 11429
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
499481CLAD: Carbon Landscapes And DrainageSusan WaldronNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/G008833/1GES - GES ADMINISTRATION