The complete carbon budget of a drained peat catchment


F. Worrall. E-mail:


This study measures the complete carbon budget of a drained peat-covered catchment. It includes dissolved organic carbon (DOC), particulate organic carbon (POC), dissolved CO2, primary pro-ductivity, soil respiration of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) in contrast to other studies which have focused on only some of the possible carbon uptake and release pathways; values for rainfall inputs were taken from a nearby catchment. The study is based on data collected over 2 yr for two drain catchments within one site and the main findings are:

1. The catchments were a net source of all forms of carbon at between +63.8 and +106.8 Mg C/km2/yr;

2. There was a net loss of between +9.3 and +40.7 Mg C/km2/yr in terms of exchange of carbon with the atmosphere;

3. The small size of the study catchments seems to have resulted in higher values of exported DOC than recorded elsewhere and the highly disturbed drainage of the site may have given rise to losses in net ecosystem exchange (NEE).

If the fate of the peatland carbon store is to be understood, then it is important that all carbon uptake and release pathways are considered and not just components of the carbon cycle.