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Near-zero recent carbon accumulation in a bog with high nitrogen deposition in SW Sweden


Urban Gunnarsson, tel. +46 18 4712866, fax +46 18 553419, e-mail:


We present data on the accumulation of carbon and nitrogen into an open oceanic ombrotrophic bog, SW Sweden, with high levels of anthropogenic nitrogen deposition. The aim was to investigate if this peatland currently acts as a sink for atmospheric carbon. Peat cores were sampled from the top peat layer in five different vegetation types. Small pines were used to date the cores. The cores bulk density and carbon and nitrogen content were determined. A vegetation-classified satellite image was used to estimate the areal extent of the vegetation types and to scale up these results to bog level. The rate of current carbon input into the upper oxic acrotelm was 290 g m−2 yr−1, and there were no significant differences in accumulation rates among the vegetation types. This organic matter input to the acrotelm was almost completely decomposed before it was deposited for storage in the deeper peat layers (the catotelm) and only a small fraction (≪1%) or 0.012 g m−2 yr−1 of the carbon would be left, assuming a residence time of 100 years in the acrotelm. Nitrogen accumulation rates differed between the vegetation classes, and the average input via primary production varied from 5.33 to 16.8 g m−2 yr−1. Current nitrogen input rates into the catotelm are much lower, 0–0.059 g m−2 yr−1, with the highest accumulation rates in lawn-dominated communities. We suggest that one of the main causes of the low carbon input rates is the high level of nitrogen deposition, which enhances decomposition and changes the vegetation from peat-forming Sphagnum-dominance to dominance by dwarf shrubs and graminoids.