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A database and synthesis of northern peatland soil properties and Holocene carbon and nitrogen accumulation

July 3, 2014

Here, we present results from the most comprehensive compilation of Holocene peat soil properties with associated carbon and nitrogen accumulation rates for northern peatlands. Our database consists of 268 peat cores from 215 sites located north of 45°N. It encompasses regions within which peat carbon data have only recently become available, such as the West Siberia Lowlands, the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Kamchatka in Far East Russia, and the Tibetan Plateau. For all northern peatlands, carbon content in organic matter was estimated at 42 ± 3% (standard deviation) for Sphagnum peat, 51 ± 2% for non-Sphagnum peat, and at 49 ± 2% overall. Dry bulk density averaged 0.12 ± 0.07 g/cm3, organic matter bulk density averaged 0.11 ± 0.05 g/cm3, and total carbon content in peat averaged 47 ± 6%. In general, large differences were found between Sphagnum and non-Sphagnum peat types in terms of peat properties. Time-weighted peat carbon accumulation rates averaged 23 ± 2 (standard error of mean) g C/m2/yr during the Holocene on the basis of 151 peat cores from 127 sites, with the highest rates of carbon accumulation (25–28 g C/m2/yr) recorded during the early Holocene when the climate was warmer than the present. Furthermore, we estimate the northern peatland carbon and nitrogen pools at 436 and 10 gigatons, respectively. The database is publicly available at

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title A database and synthesis of northern peatland soil properties and Holocene carbon and nitrogen accumulation
DOI 10.1177/0959683614538073
Authors Rebecca A. Loiselle, Zicheng Yu, David Beilman, Philip Camill, Jukka Alm, Matthew Amesbury, David Anderson, Sofia Andersson, Christopher Bochicchio, Keith Barber, Lisa Belyea, Joan Bunbury, Frank M. Chambers, Dan Charman, Francois De Vleeschouwer, Barbara Fialkiawicz-Koziel, Sarah A Finkelstein, Mariusz Galka, Michelle Garneau, Dan Hammarlund, William Hinchcliffe, James Holmquist, Paul Hughes, Miriam C. Jones, Eric S. Klein, Ulla Kokfelt, Atte Korhola, Peter Kuhry, Alexandre Lamarre, Mariusz Lamentowicz, David Large, Martin Lavoie, Glen MacDonald, Gabriel Magnan, Markku Makila, Gunnar Mallon, Paul Mathijssen, Dmitri Mauquoy, Julia McCarroll, Tim R. Moore, Jonathan M. Nichols, Benjamin O'Reilly, P.O. Oksanen, Maara S. Packalen, Dorothy M. Peteet, Pierre Richard, Stephen Robinson, T.M. Ronkainen, Mats Rundgren, A. Britta K. Sannel, Charles Tarnocai, Tim Thom, Eeva-Stiina Tuittila, Merritt Turetsky, M. Valiranta, Marjolein van der Linden, Bas van Geel, Simon van Bellen, Dale Vitt, Yan Zhao, Weijian Zhou
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title The Holocene
Index ID 70209284
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center; Florence Bascom Geoscience Center