Methane dynamics in a montane fen: Factors controlling production, accumulation and emissions

Monday, 15 December 2014
Kisa E Mwakanyamale, Heather Yeung and Maria Strack, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Characterization of methane dynamics in peatlands is essential to improve understanding of peatlands contribution to carbon balance and interaction with climate. Of the two peatland types, natural fens are known to be a larger contributor of methane emissions to the atmosphere than natural bogs. This study uses geophysical methods integrated with in-situ direct measurements and chamber fluxes to improve understanding of temporal and spatial variation in methane production, accumulation and emissions from natural montane fen in Alberta Canada. Meteorological data and peat cores (~150 cm) were collected to study factors affecting methane production, accumulation and emissions from the Sibbald Research Wetland, a montane fen in the Rocky Mountains in southern Alberta.

Our results show a direct correlation between methane accumulation and degree of peat humification, substrate quality and porosity. Changes in temperature, pressure and water table position were shown to relate to ebullition events, with the highest number of ebullition events occurring from late August to early November. The geophysical results indicate a small spatial variation in free phase biogenic gas accumulation within the studied area. Diffusive methane fluxes were correlated to plant productivity on both daily and seasonal time scales with patterns varying between plots dominated by Juncus sp. and Carex spp. These results highlight the interacting ecological and physical controls on peatland methane dynamics.