Low evapotranspiration enhances the resilience of peatland carbon stocks to fire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

  • Maxwell Curtis Lukenbach
  • Kelly Jean Hokanson
  • Chris Hopkinson
  • Kevin J. Devito
  • Richard Michael Petrone
  • Carl Mendoza
  • James Michael Waddington

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University
  • Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science, University of Alberta
  • Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
  • Department of Geography, University of Lethbridge
  • Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo

Abstract

Boreal peatlands may be vulnerable to projected changes in the wildfire regime under future climates. Extreme drying during the sensitive post-fire period may exceed peatland ecohydrological resilience, triggering long-term degradation of these globally significant carbon stocks. Despite these concerns, we show low peatland evapotranspiration at both the plot and landscape scale post-fire, in water-limited peatlands dominated by feather moss that are ubiquitous across continental western Canada. Low post-fire evapotranspiration enhance the resilience of carbon stocks in such peatlands to wildfire disturbance and reinforces their function as a regional source or water. Near-surface water repellency may provide an important, previously unexplored, regulator of peatland evapotranspiration that can induce low evapotranspiration in the initial post-fire years by restricting the supply of water to the peat surface.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Early online date8 Sep 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • peatland , wildfire , evapatranspiration , resilience , temperature , water repellency , hydrophobicity