How are pools influencing the long-term rate of peat accumulation at the ecosystem scale in northern peatlands?


Estimates of the global amount of carbon stored in peatlands are based on spatial extrapolations of peat carbon content values derived from peat core analysis. However, due to the labor-intensive nature and costs associated with peat core collection and analysis, most site-wide or region-wide peat carbon content or peat accumulation rate estimates are based on a very limited number of cores (often only one per site), ignoring the potential peat accumulation variations within a site. Variations in peat accumulation values between microforms, especially small open water features (pools) are therefore generally not quantified. Although poorly documented, the area occupied by pools in a given peatland can be quite significant, reaching up to 30% in peatlands of the Hudson’s Bay Lowlands. As pools can be relatively deep (> 2 m), the carbon stored per unit area under pools is significantly lower than on the adjacent vegetated surfaces, where peat cores are typically collected. We present first order estimates of the potential impact of overlooking pools in regional peat carbon content inventories based on a review of the available data on pool coverage and depths, and on peat profiles generated by the Holocene Peat Model. We also present the implications of these results for future research.


Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center

Publication Date


Journal Title

Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union (AGU)


American Geophysical Union Publications

Document Type

Conference Proceeding