There is concern that peatlands are degrading in the face of global warming and that their function is diminishing as mitigation for climate change, shifting from carbon sinks to carbon sources. The situation may be more severe in peatlands that have already been drained for forestry or other human exploitation.
Peatland restoration is regarded as an important climate change mitigation strategy, slowing down peat decomposition and supporting the re-establishment of peatland vegetation, which may restore the negative climate feedback (i.e. carbon sequestration in the form of biomass).
Few studies have examined the initial response of peatlands to various ditch maintenance activities, but the impact of climate change on boreal peatlands under different management strategies has not yet been studied. Starting in January 2023, we have conducted a mesocosm experiment in climate-controlled rooms to fill in this knowledge gap. Specifically, we will investigate the impact of both current and a moderate future climate scenario (RCP 4.5) on:
- a) methane and carbon dioxide emissions
- b) hydrology and flood control services
- c) water quality
- d) peat decomposition
in boreal peatlands under different ditch management treatments: 1) restoration, 2) ditch cleaning, and 3) left alone.