Dynamics of biogenic gas bubbles in peat and their effects on peatland biogeochemistry
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Production and emission of peat gas has attracted great interest because substantial amounts of methane (CH4) are emitted to the atmosphere from peat soils. Many studies indicate supersaturation of CH4 in peat water, implying a high potential for gas bubble formation. However, observations of bubbles in peat are often only qualitatively described, and in most cases the presence of entrapped gas has been largely ignored in peatland studies. On the basis of a review of literature, a conceptual model of entrapped gas dynamics was developed and investigated using field and laboratory measurements at a poor fen in central Quebec. We investigated variations in production and volume of gas and the effect of this gas on trace gas emissions, peat buoyancy, and pore water chemistry during 2002 and 2003. Measurements made with moisture probes and subsurface gas collectors revealed that gas volume varied throughout the growing season in relation to hydrostatic and barometric pressure. Shifts in entrapped gas volume were also coincident with changes in dissolved pore water CH4. The presence of these bubbles has important biogeochemical effects, including the development of localized CH4 diffusion gradients, alteration of local flow paths affecting substrate delivery, peat buoyancy, and the potential episodic release of CH4 via ebullition events. These interactions must be included in peatland models to describe accurately the hydrology and greenhouse gas emissions from these ecosystems and to make predictions about their response to environmental change.
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Maria Strack, James M. Waddington, Erik Kellner (2005). Dynamics of biogenic gas bubbles in peat and their effects on peatland biogeochemistry. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19222