Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-65
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2021-65

  09 Jun 2021

09 Jun 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Carbon accumulation rates of Holocene peatlands in central-eastern Europe document the driving role of human impact for the past 4000 years

Jack Longman1, Daniel Veres2, Aritina Haliuc2,3, Walter Finsinger4, Vasile Ersek5, Daniela Pascal6,7, Tiberiu Sava6,7, and Robert Begy8 Jack Longman et al.
  • 1Marine Isotope Geochemistry, Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), University of Oldenburg, 26129, Oldenburg, Germany
  • 2Romanian Academy, Institute of Speleology, 400006 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • 3EPOC, UMR 5805, Université de Bordeaux, Pessac, France
  • 4ISEM, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, 34095, Montpellier Cedex 5, France
  • 5Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK
  • 6RoAMS Laboratory, Horia Hulubei National Institute for Physics and Nuclear Engineering, Reactorului 30, 077125, Măgurele-Bucharest, Romania
  • 7University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography, Bd. Nicolae Bălcescu 1, 030018, Bucharest, Romania
  • 8Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Bio-Nano-Science, Babes-Bolyai University, Treboniu Laurian 42, 400271, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Abstract. Peatlands are one of the largest terrestrial carbon sinks on the planet, yet little is known about carbon accumulation rates (CARs) of mountainous examples. The long-term variability in the size of the associated carbon sink and its drivers remain largely unconstrained, especially when long-term anthropogenic impact is also considered. Here we present a composite CAR record of nine peatlands from central-eastern Europe (Romania and Serbia) detailing variability in rates of carbon accumulation across the Holocene. We show examples of extremely high long-term rates of carbon accumulation (LORCA > 120 g C m−2 yr−1), indicating that at times, mountain peatlands constitute an efficient regional carbon sink. By comparing our data to modelled palaeoclimatic indices and to measures of anthropogenic impact we disentangle the drivers of peat carbon accumulation in the area. Variability in early and mid-Holocene CARs is linked to hydroclimatic controls, with high CARs occurring during the early Holocene and lower CARs associated with the transition to cooler and moister mid-Holocene conditions. By contrast, after 4000 years (calibrated) before present (yr BP) the trends in CARs indicate a divergence from hydroclimate proxies, indicating that other processes became the dominant drivers of peat CARs. We suggest that enhanced erosion following tree cover reduction as well as enhanced rates of long-distance atmospheric dust fallout might have played a role as both processes would result in enhanced mineral and nutrient supply to bog surfaces, stimulating peat land productivity. Surprisingly though, for the last 1000 years, reconstructed temperature is significantly correlated with CARs, with rising temperatures linked to higher CARs. We suggest under future climate conditions, predicted to be warmer in the region, peat growth may expand, but that this is entirely dependent upon the scale of human impact directly affecting the sensitive hydrological budget of these peatlands.

Jack Longman et al.

Status: open (until 04 Aug 2021)

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Jack Longman et al.

Jack Longman et al.

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Short summary
Peatlands are some of the best environments for storing carbon, and so understanding how much carbon can be stored, and how amounts have changed through time is important to understand carbon cycling. We analysed 9 peatlands from central eastern Europe to look at how carbon storage in mountain bogs has changed in the last 10,000 years. We conclude that in the past 4000 years human activities are the main driver of changes in levels of storage, but prior to this climate was the primary driver.