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Stable carbon isotopes in soils as indicators of environmental change

English title Stable carbon isotopes in soils as indicators of environmental change
Applicant Alewell Christine
Number 155889
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Umweltgeowissenschaften Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Pedology
Start/End 01.04.2015 - 31.03.2016
Approved amount 71'077.00
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Keywords (10)

wetland degradation; d15N; d13C; peats; bogs; mires; fens; European transect; land use; soil degradation

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Natürliche Moore mit ihren wassergesättigten Böden können über die Zeit organisches Material akkumulieren und sind eine Kohlenstoffsenke. Moordegradierung hingegen kann durch eine Veränderung der Zersetzungsbedingungen von anaerob zu aerob die Kohlenstoffsenke in eine Quelle umwandeln.
Lay summary

Unsere Hypothese ist, dass stabile Kohlenstoff- und Stickstoffisotopenprofile eine Moordegradierung durch Drainage, Klimawandel oder Landnutzungswandel anzeigen. Aerobe Zersetzung führt zu einer 13C Anreicherung im Tiefenprofil des Bodens, wohingegen anaerobe Zersetzung zu einer Abnahme von 13C mit einer Anreicherung von rekalzitranten Material oder keiner Veränderung im Tiefenprofil auf Grund von geringen Zersetzungsraten führt (Alewell et al., 2011). Wir haben Proben aus zehn Mooren entlang eines Transektes von 200km nördliches des Polarkreises bis zum Schwarzwald, Süddeutschland entnommen und diese auf stabile Isotope (δ13C und δ15N) sowie C und N Gehalt analysiert. Im beantragten Projekt werden wir, die C Verluste von degradierten Mooren mit der sogenannten Aschemethode (Leifeld et al., 2011) quantifizieren. Zusätzlich werden ausgewählte Proben mit 14C datiert um das Alter des Torfes sowie die C Verluste über die 14C Datierung zu bestimmen. Quantifizierung von C Verlusten mit diesen Methoden wird zeigen, ob Landnutzungswandel/-intensivierung den C Verlust verstärkt oder abschwächt. Des Weiteren werden Proben mit der Infrarotmethode (Leifeld et al., 2012) analysiert um die Sensibilität von C Verlusten auf die Qualität der organische Substanz zu untersuchen. Vergleiche von stabilen Isotopen, Aschegehalt, Infrarotdaten und 14C Messungen werden zeigen, ob stabile Isotopenprofile zur Identifizierung von Moordegradierung geeignet sind.

 

Alewell, C. et al. (2011) Stable carbon isotopes as indicators for environmental change in palsa peats. Biogeosciences 8, 1769-1778.

Leifeld, J. et al. (2011) Organic matter losses from temperate ombrotrophic peatlands: an evaluation of the ash residue method. Plant and Soil 341, 349-361.

Leifeld, J. et al. (2012) Sensitivity of peatland carbon loss to organic matter quality. Geophysical Research Letters 39.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 08.10.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Soil carbon loss from managed peatlands along a land use gradient - a comparison of three different methods
Krüger Jan Paul, Leifeld Jens, Glatzel Stephan, Alewell Christine (2015), Soil carbon loss from managed peatlands along a land use gradient - a comparison of three different methods, in Bodenkundliche Gesellschaft der Schweiz BULLETIN, 36, 45-50.
Stable isotopes as indicators of environmental change
Krüger Jan Paul, Alewell Christine (2015), Stable isotopes as indicators of environmental change, in Callaghan Terry V., Savela Hannele (ed.), Aarhus University, Denmark, 60-61.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr. Kari Minkkinen, University of Helsinki Finland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Dr. Mats Nilsson, Umea University Sweden (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Dr. Stephan Glatzel, University of Rostock Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Pascal von Sengbusch, Consultant for Ecological wetland surveys and monitoring, Kandern Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
EGU General Assembly 2016 Talk given at a conference Sources of variability in peat composition and the role of peat age 17.04.2016 Vienna, Austria Leifeld Jens;
EGU General Assembly 2016 Talk given at a conference Carbon isotopes as indicators of peatland growth? 17.04.2016 Vienna, Austria Leifeld Jens; Alewell Christine;
BGS Jahrestagung 2016 Talk given at a conference The underappreciated role of organic soils in the terrestrial C and N cycle 04.02.2016 Genf, Switzerland Leifeld Jens;
5th International Symposium on Soil Organic Matter (SOM) Talk given at a conference Carbon isotopes as indicators of past and present environmental change in peatlands 20.09.2015 Göttingen, Germany Alewell Christine; Krüger Jan Paul;
Jahrestagung der Deutschen Bodenkundlichen Gesellschaft 2015 Talk given at a conference Sind drainierte Moorböden unter forstwirtschaftlicher Nutzung eine Kohlenstoffquelle oder –senke? Ein Fallbeispiel aus Finnland 06.09.2015 München, Germany Krüger Jan Paul;
Gordon Conference on Catchment Science Poster Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes as indicators of soil degradation 14.06.2015 Andover, United States of America Krüger Jan Paul; Alewell Christine;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Project website International 2015

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
137569 Stable carbon isotopes in soils as indicators of environmental change 01.02.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)
113331 Soil degradation and nutrient export in the upper alpine level of the Reuss watershed 01.12.2006 Project funding (Div. I-III)
105579 Soil degradation and nutrient export in the upper alpine level of the Reuss watershed 01.12.2004 Project funding (Div. I-III)
146018 Improving soil erosion assessment in Swiss mountainous areas using radionuclides (137Cs, 239+240Pu) 01.10.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)
169556 Combining biogeochemical and modelling approach to assess peatland restoration 01.06.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Peatlands act as a carbon sink in pristine status by accumulation of organic material in their water saturated soils. Peatland degradation could change a peatland from a carbon sink into a carbon source due to altered decomposition processes. Our hypothesis is that stable carbon isotope depth profiles indicate peatland degradation such as drainage, climate change or land use change. Aerobic decomposition leads to an enrichment of 13C in aerated layers, whereas anaerobic conditions induce either a depletion of 13C due to an enrichment of recalcitrant material or a uniform depth trend due to very low degradation rates (Alewell et al., 2011). We took samples from ten peatlands in a transect from northern most Europe 200 km north of the polar circle down to the Black Forest in southern Germany with different degradation causes. Stable isotopes (d13C and d15N) as well as carbon and nitrogen content are analysed from peat samples. Our aim in the proposed continuation is to quantify the carbon loss from degraded peatland by making use of differences in ash content between the upper and the deeper part of the peat profile as described by Leifeld et al. (2011a). Selected samples will be dated with 14C to know when the peat material was accumulated and to quantify the C loss by radiocarbon dates. Carbon accumulation rates will be calculated by peat ages and C stock in different depths of natural peatlands. With this and 14C dated peat layers in degraded sites we can estimate the carbon loss from the degraded peatland. Quantification of carbon loss by these methods will show if land use change/intensification trigger/enhance carbon loss from peatlands. Furthermore organic matter quality of peat material will be determined by infrared spectroscopy (Leifeld et al., 2012) to deduce the sensitivity of peatland carbon loss to organic matter quality. A comparison of stable isotope data with ash content, organic matter quality and 14C measurements will indicate if the isotope depth profiles are suitable indicators of peatland degradation.
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