Methane (CH4) ebullition in northern peatlands is poorly quantified in part due to its high spatiotemporal variability. In this study, a dynamic flux chamber (DFC) system was used to continuously measure CH4 fluxes from a monolith of near‐surface Sphagnum peat at the laboratory scale to understand the complex behavior of CH4 ebullition. Coincident transmission ground penetrating radar measurements of gas content were also acquired at three depths within the monolith. A graphical method was developed to separate diffusion, steady ebullition, and episodic ebullition fluxes from the total CH4 flux recorded and to identify the timing and CH4 content of individual ebullition events. The results show that the application of the DFC had minimal disturbance on air‐peat CH4 exchange and estimated ebullition fluxes were not sensitive to the uncertainties associated with the graphical model. Steady and episodic ebullition fluxes were estimated to be averagely 36 ± 24% and 38 ± 24% of the total fluxes over the study period, respectively. The coupling between episodic CH4 ebullition and gas content within the three layers supports the existence of a threshold gas content regulating CH4 ebullition. However, the threshold at which active ebullition commenced varied between peat layers with a larger threshold (0.14 m3 m−3) observed in the deeper layers, suggesting that the peat physical structure controls gas bubble dynamics in peat. Temperature variation (23°C to 27°C) was likely only responsible for small episodic ebullition events from the upper peat layer, while large ebullition events from the deeper layers were most likely triggered by drops in atmospheric pressure.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences


American Geophysical Union (AGU)

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©2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


This is an article published by AGU in Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences in 2014, available online: