Ecohydrological feedbacks confound peat-based climate reconstructions



[1] Water-table reconstructions from Holocene peatlands are increasingly being used as indicators of terrestrial palaeoclimate in many regions of the world. However, the links between peatland water tables, climate, and long-term peatland development are poorly understood. Here we use a combination of high-resolution proxy climate data and a model of long-term peatland development to examine the relationship between rapid hydrological fluctuations in peatlands and climatic forcing. We show that changes in water-table depth can occur independently of climate forcing. Ecohydrological feedbacks inherent in peatland development can lead to a degree of homeostasis that partially disconnects peatland water-table behaviour from external climatic influences. We conclude by suggesting that further work needs to be done before peat-based climate reconstructions can be used to test climate models.