Characterizing Peatland Uptake and Losses of Carbon

Community-level flux methods provide a foundation for understanding bog carbon cycle warming responses.

The Science

Researchers evaluated seasonal patterns of net carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) flux from an experimental bog in northern Minnesota to establish a baseline for whole-ecosystem warming studies.

The Impact

Community-level methods were developed and shown capable of quantifying the net flux of the important greenhouse gases CO2 and CH4 in a raised bog setting to capture heterogeneous conditions. These methods enable intact assessments of net ecosystem exchange of carbon from the bog community in a manner that does not disturb the experimentally manipulated plots.


Evaluation of the net carbon flux from peatlands under a warming global climate is key to the projection of future greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. The method developed in this study, as part of the Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental Change (SPRUCE) experiment, enabled these measurements as well as an estimation of seasonal carbon flux of CO2 and CH4 for a temperate bog ecosystem.

Principal Investigator(s)

Paul J. Hanson
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Related Links


This material is based on work supported by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research, within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, and the DOE Office of Science Graduate Fellowship Program (DE-AC05-06OR23100 to A. L. G.). Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for DOE under contract DE-AC05- 00OR22725.


Hanson, P.J., A.L. Gill, X. Xu, J.R. Phillips, D.J. Weston, R.K. Kolka, J.S. Riggs, L.A. Hook “Intermediate-scale community-level flux of CO2 and CH4 in a Minnesota peatland: Putting the SPRUCE project in a global context.” Biogeochemistry 129(3), 255–72 (2016). [DOI:10.1007/s10533-016-0230-8].