Topsoil removal reduced in-situ methane emissions in a temperate rewetted bog grassland by a hundredfold

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  • Vytas Huth, University of Rostock
  • ,
  • Anke Günther, University of Rostock
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  • Anna Bartel, Europäisches Fachzentrum Moor und Klima Wagenfeld GmbH
  • ,
  • Bernd Hofer, Hofer & Pautz GbR
  • ,
  • Oona Jacobs, University of Rostock
  • ,
  • Nele Jantz, Europäisches Fachzentrum Moor und Klima Wagenfeld GmbH
  • ,
  • Mareike Meister, University of Greifswald
  • ,
  • Eva Rosinski, Hofer & Pautz GbR
  • ,
  • Tim Urich, University of Greifswald
  • ,
  • Micha Weil, University of Greifswald
  • ,
  • Dominik Zak
  • Gerald Jurasinski, University of Rostock

Peatland restoration is seen as an effective contribution to help achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement because currently huge amounts of peatlands in Northern Central Europe are under unsustainable drainage-based land use. If net zero greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands shall be reached by 2050, restoration measures have to be done as soon as possible. However, rewetting drained peatlands that were under intensive grassland use frequently results in high methane (CH4) emissions, which is often seen as a counter-argument against rewetting. To find the source of high CH4 emissions after rewetting and to explore the best possible way of peatland restoration (i.e., low CH4 emissions after rewetting) under near-natural conditions, we installed a field trial in a drained bog in north-western Germany. The trial consists of seven plots (~8 × 24 m2) representing the status quo—intensive grassland use— and six restoration approaches with combinations of rewetting either on the original surface or after topsoil removal (TSR), biomass harvesting or spreading Sphagnum spp. to initiate vegetation succession. On all seven plots we measured CH4 fluxes using closed chambers. In addition, we investigated CH4 production potential by incubating soil samples and determining methanogen abundance by quantitative PCR. Compared to rewetting on the original surface, CH4 emissions were reduced on TSR plots by factor 30 to 400. Spreading of Sphagnum spp. had only little effect on CH4 emissions during the first year of establishment. TSR also reduced CH4 production potential and methanogen abundance. Further, the response of CH4 fluxes to methanogen abundance was lower after TSR. This suggests that both reduction in labile substrate and in methanogen abundance contribute to near-zero CH4 emissions after TSR. These are the first field-scale results that demonstrate the efficiency of removing degraded topsoil to avoid high CH4 emissions after rewetting.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137763
JournalScience of the total Environment
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

    Research areas

  • Greenhouse gases, Methanogenesis, Peatland, Restoration, Rewetting, Sphagnum

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