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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry, and Earth Sciences

Department of Hydrology - Prof. Dr. Stefan Peiffer

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Blodau, C; Siems, M; Beer, J (2011): Experimental burial inhibits methanogenesis and anaerobic decomposition in water-saturated peats, Environmental Science and Technology
Abstract:
A mechanistic understanding of carbon (C) sequestration and methane (CH4) production is of great interest due to the importance of these processes for the global C budget. Here we demonstrate experimentally, by means of column experiments, that burial of water saturated, anoxic bog peat leads to inactivation of anaerobic respiration and methanogenesis. This effect can be related to the slowness of diffusive transport of solutes and evolving energetic constraints on anaerobic respiration. Burial lowered decomposition constants in homogenized peat sand mixtures from about 10-5 to 10-7 yr-1, which is considerably slower than previously assumed, and methanogenesis slowed down in a similar manner. The latter effect could be related to acetoclastic methanogenesis approaching a minimum energy quantum of – 25 kJ mol-1 (CH4). Given the robustness of hydraulic properties that locate the oxic-anoxic boundary near the peatland surface and constrain solute transport deeper into the peat, this effect has likely been critical for building the peatland C store and will continue supporting long-term C sequestration in northern peatlands even under moderately changing climatic conditions.
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