Holocene peatland development and carbon stock of Zoige peatlands, Tibetan Plateau: a modeling approach


Purpose: Despite the many studies about peatland development and carbon dynamics in China, especially for Zoige peatlands on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, few apply modeling as an effective approach to study peatland development. In order to fill up the knowledge gaps of China alpine peatland development and to provide a comparison with previous research, we studied the Zoige peatlands in Holocene with a modeling approach.

Materials and methods: Simulated results were obtained by the Holocene peatland model (HPM). Driving data was reconstructed based on paleoclimate studies. Model calibration and performance index validation were done by comparing the model output with literature data about peat age depth.

Results and discussion: Based on our results, the peat cohort mass mean accumulation rate was 0.45 mm year−1 (ranging from 0.38 to 0.50 mm year−1). The mean C accumulation rate was about 0.026 kg C m−2 year−1 (ranging from 0.023 to 0.029 kg C m−2 year−1), with a peak accumulation rate around 7 ka to 6 ka BP during the Holocene. The peat depth was 5.38 m (ranging from 4.6 to 5.99 m). The total peat storage in Zoige was about 1.76 Pg (ranging from 1.58 to 2.29 pg), and the carbon stock was estimated as 0.432 pg C (ranging from 0.348 to 0.479 pg C) in Zoige peatlands during the Holocene. After model calibration and validation, simulated results indicated that peat development and carbon accumulation were controlled by variation of water table depth (WTD).

Conclusions: Simulated results indicated that the Zoige peatlands are the most important component of peatlands in China in terms of carbon stock. Though HPM lacks in driving data of temperature and incomplete climate factors, its limitations in the parameter setting should not offset the added value of the modeling approach in improving our understanding of peatland carbon and their controlling factor dynamics at the long-term scales in the Zoige region where there are very few studies so far.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Soils and Sediments



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