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Keywords:

  • carbon dioxide;
  • diurnal cycles;
  • evasion;
  • methane;
  • supersaturation

Abstract

Surface waters associated with peatlands, supersaturated with CO2 and CH4 with respect to the atmosphere, act as important pathways linking a large and potentially unstable global repository of C to the atmosphere. Understanding the drivers and mechanisms which control C release from peatland systems to the atmosphere will contribute to better management and modelling of terrestrial C pools. We used non-dispersive infra-red (NDIR) CO2 sensors to continuously measure gas concentrations in a beaver pond at Mer Bleue peatland (Canada); measurements were made between July and August 2007. Concentrations of CO2 in the surface water (10 cm) reached 13 mg C l−1 (epCO2 72), and 26 mg C l−1 (epCO2 133) at depth (60 cm). The study also showed large diurnal fluctuations in dissolved CO2 which ranged in amplitude from ∼1·6 mg C l−1 at 10 cm to ∼0·2 mg C l−1 at 60 cm depth. CH4 concentration and supersaturation (epCH4) measured using headspace analysis averaged 1·47 mg C l−1 and 3252, respectively; diurnal cycling was also evident in CH4 concentrations. Mean estimated evasion rates of CO2 and CH4 over the summer period were 44·92 ± 7·86 and 0·44 ± 0·25 µg C m−2s−1, respectively. Open water at Mer Bleue is a significant summer hotspot for greenhouse gas emissions within the catchment. Our results suggest that CO2 concentrations during the summer in beaver ponds at Mer Bleue are strongly influenced by biological processes within the water column involving aquatic plants and algae (in situ photosynthesis and respiration). In terms of carbon cycling, soil-stream connectivity at this time of year is therefore relatively weak. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.