Northern Canadian wetlands: Net ecosystem CO2 exchange and climatic change

J. M. Waddington, T. J. Griffis, W. R. Rouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Northern Canadian peatlands represent a long term sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), however there is concern they may become a net source of CO2 due to climatic change. Climatic change is expected to result in significant changes in regional hydrology in boreal and subarctic regions of Canada. A hydrologic model predicted a summer water table drop of 0.14 m in northern Canadian fens given an increase in summer temperature and rainfall of 3°C and 1 mm d-1, respectively. Moreover, surface peat temperature increased by 2.3°C. Net ecosystem exchange of CO2 was modelled using these modelled hydrologic and thermal changes with respiration:peat temperature and water table:net ecosystem production relationships developed from measurements at wetlands in northern Sweden and near Churchill, Manitoba. Model results indicate that the net atmospheric CO2 sink function of fens may be enhanced under future 2 x CO2 scenarios, while boss may become a net source of atmospheric CO2. If the net ecosystem productivity response to the new hydrologic conditions was ignored then the model predicts a decrease in summer carbon storage for all peatland types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-275
Number of pages9
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998


  • Atmosphere
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Climatic change
  • Wetlands


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