Widespread drying of European peatlands in recent centuries

Swindles, Graeme T, Morris, Paul J, Mullan, Donal J, Payne, Richard J, Roland, Thomas P, Amesbury, Matthew J, Lamentowicz, Mariusz, Turner, T. Edward, Gallego-Sala, Angela, Sim, Thomas, Barr, Lestyn D, Blaauw, Maarten, Blundell, Antony, Chambers, Frank M ORCID: 0000-0002-0998-2093, Charman, Dan J, Feurdean, Angelica, Galloway, Jennifer M, Gałka, Mariusz, Green, Sophie, Kajukało, Katarzyna, Karofeld, Edgar, Korhola, Atte, Lamentowicz, Łukasz, Langdon, Peter, Marcisz, Katarzyna, Mauquoy, Dmitri, Mazei, Yuri A, McKeown, Michelle, Mitchell, Edward A D, Novenko, Elena, Plunkett, Gill, Roe, Helen M, Schoning, Kristian, Sillasoo, Ülle, Tsyganov, Andrey N, van der Linden, Marjolein, Väliranta, Minna and Warner, Barry (2019) Widespread drying of European peatlands in recent centuries. Nature Geoscience, 12. pp. 922-928. doi:10.1038/s41561-019-0462-z

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Climate warming and human impacts are thought to be causing peatlands to dry, potentially converting them from sinks to sources of carbon. However, it is unclear whether the hydrological status of peatlands has moved beyond their natural envelope. Here we show that European peatlands have undergone substantial, widespread drying during the last ~300 years. We analyse testate amoeba-derived hydrological reconstructions from 31 peatlands across Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and continental Europe to examine changes in peatland surface wetness during the last 2000 years. 60% of our study sites were drier during the period CE 1800-2000 than they have been for the last 600 years; 40% of sites were drier than they have been for 1000 years; and 24% of sites were drier than they have been for 2000 years. This marked recent transition in the hydrology of European peatlands is concurrent with compound pressures including climatic drying, warming and direct human impacts on peatlands, although these factors vary between regions and individual sites. Our results suggest that the wetness of many European peatlands may now be moving away from natural baselines. Our findings highlight the need for effective management and restoration of European peatlands.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Wetlands; Climate change; Hydrology; Carbon; Europe; REF2021
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General) > S900 Conservation of natural resources including land conservation
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2019 12:35
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:58
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/7161

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