SPRUCE Deep Peat Heating Manipulations: in situ Methods to Characterize the Response of Deep Peat to Warming
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Deep soil heating infrastructure was completed in 2014 for a peatland whole-ecosystem warming study that will include air warming starting in 2015 (SPRUCE; http://mnspruce.ornl.gov). In June 2014, we initiated deep soil heating to test the responsiveness of deep peat carbon stocks, microbial communities and biogeochemical cycling processes to heating at 4 warming levels (+2.25, +4.5, +6.75 and +9 °C; 2 replicate plots) compared to fully-constructed control plots (+0 °C; 2 replicate plots). The warming treatments were deployed over eight 113 m2 areas using circular arrays of low-wattage (W) electrical resistance heaters. Perimeter heating was achieved by an exterior circle of 48 100W heaters that apply heat from the surface to a depth of 3 meters. Heating within the study area was accomplished utilizing three zones of 100W “deep only” heaters: an intermediate circle of 12 units, an interior circle of 6 units and one unit placed at the plot center. Heating elements inside the study area apply heat only from -2 to -3 m to keep active heater surfaces away from measured peat volumes. With an average peat depth of 2.5 meters this system was able to warm approximately 113 of the 282 m3 of peat within each target plot. In the absence of the air warming cap, in situ deep peat heating is only effective at sustaining warming in the deep peat layers. Warming levels at depth were achieved over a 25-day (+ 2.25 °C) to a 60-day (+9 °C) period depending on the target treatment temperatures in agreement with a priori energy balance model simulations. Homogeneous temperature distributions between heaters at a given depth interval continued to develop after these targets were reached. Biological and biogeochemical responses to these manipulations are being actively assessed. After one month of transient heating, data for ground-level surface flux of CO2 and CH4 had not shown changes from deep peat heating, but they continue to be tracked and will be summarized in this and related talks.