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Keywords:

  • Glacial Lake Agassiz Peatlands;
  • heat transfer;
  • thermal conductivity;
  • SUTRA

Abstract

We report the results of an investigation on the processes controlling heat transport in peat under a large bog in the Glacial Lake Agassiz Peatlands. For 2 years, starting in July 1998, we recorded temperature at 12 depth intervals from 0 to 400 cm within a vertical peat profile at the crest of the bog at sub-daily intervals. We also recorded air temperature 1 m above the peat surface. We calculate a peat thermal conductivity of 0·5 W m−1 °C−1 and model vertical heat transport through the peat using the SUTRA model. The model was calibrated to the first year of data, and then evaluated against the second year of collected heat data. The model results suggest that advective pore-water flow is not necessary to transport heat within the peat profile and most of the heat is transferred by thermal conduction alone in these waterlogged soils. In the spring season, a zero-curtain effect controls the transport of heat through shallow depths of the peat. Changes in local climate and the resulting changes in thermal transport still may cause non-linear feedbacks in methane emissions related to the generation of methane deeper within the peat profile as regional temperatures increase. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.