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Operation of the boreal peatland methane cycle across the last 16 kyr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Early online date19 Nov 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Oct 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Nov 2019
DatePublished (current) - Jan 2020


The role of boreal wetlands in driving variations in atmospheric methane (CH4) concentrations across the deglaciation and Holocene is debated. Most studies 1 infer the sources of atmospheric methane via ice core records of methane concentration and its light stable isotopic composition. However, direct evidence for variations in the methane cycle from the wetlands themselves is relatively limited. Here we use a suite of biomarker proxies to reconstruct the methane cycle in the Chinese Hani peat across the last 16 kyr. We find two periods of enhanced methanogenesis: ~15-11 kyr and ~10-6 kyr, whereas weak methanogenesis characterized the late Holocene. These periods of enhanced methanogenesis relate to periods of high/increasing temperatures, supporting a temperature control on the wetland methane cycle. We find no biomarker
evidence for intense methanotrophy throughout the last 16 kyr and contrary to previous studies we find no clear control of hydrology on the peatland methane cycle. Although the onset of methanogenesis at Hani around 15 kyr coincides with a negative shift in δ13CCH4 in the ice cores, there is no consistent correlation between changes in the reconstructed methane cycle of the boreal Hani peat and atmospheric CH4 concentrations.

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