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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 5, issue 3
Clim. Past, 5, 361–373, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Clim. Past, 5, 361–373, 2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  21 Jul 2009

21 Jul 2009

Uncertainties in modelling CH4 emissions from northern wetlands in glacial climates: effect of hydrological model and CH4 model structure

C. Berrittella and J. van Huissteden C. Berrittella and J. van Huissteden
  • Vrije Universiteit, VU-Amsterdam, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Department of Hydrology and Geo-Environmental Sciences, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract. Methane (CH4) fluxes from northern wetlands may have influenced atmospheric CH4 concentrations at climate warming phases during the last 800 000 years and during the present global warming. Including these CH4 fluxes in earth system models is essential to understand feedbacks between climate and atmospheric composition.

Attempts to model CH4 fluxes from wetlands have previously been undertaken using various approaches. Here, we test a process-based wetland CH4 flux model (PEATLAND-VU) which includes details of soil-atmosphere CH4 transport. The model has been used to simulate CH4 emissions from continental Europe in previous glacial climates and the current climate.

This paper presents results regarding the sensitivity of modeling glacial terrestrial CH4 fluxes to (a) basic tuning parameters of the model, (b) different approaches in modeling of the water table, and (c) model structure. In order to test the model structure, PEATLAND-VU was compared to a simpler modeling approach based on wetland primary production estimated from a vegetation model (BIOME 3.5). The tuning parameters are the CH4 production rate from labile organic carbon and its temperature sensitivity.

The modelled fluxes prove comparatively insensitive to hydrology representation, while sensitive to microbial parameters and model structure. Glacial climate emissions are also highly sensitive to assumptions about the extent of ice cover and exposed seafloor. Wetland expansion over low relief exposed seafloor areas have compensated for a decrease of wetland area due to continental ice cover.

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