Carbon storage change and δ13C transitions of peat columns in a partially forestry-drained boreal bog

Hannu Nykänen, Antti J. Rissanen, Jukka Turunen, Teemu Tahvanainen, Heikki Simola

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Background and aims

In forestry-drained peatlands, drying leads to changes in C cycling which could affect peat δ13C. Furthermore, the δ13C profile of the entire peat column may reveal effects of earlier climatic periods.


We measured peat δ13C and C inventories in adjacent peat profiles, two collected from undrained and two from the drained side of a bog that was partially ditch-drained 37 years earlier. The cores were sliced into 10-cm subsamples for analyses; matching of the profiles based on surface levelling, peat stratigraphic correlation and a horizontal ash layer found in both profiles.


Surface subsidence of 30 cm was observed in the dried site and the uppermost 160 cm in the undrained site contained an excess of 5.9 kg m−2 of C compared with the corresponding strata of the ditch-drained site. The δ13C values increased but markedly only in the thin surface layer of the drained site, indicating low δ13C of the missing C (ca. –30‰). In the deeper strata, dating to Mid-Holocene, high dry bulk density, C%, N%, humification index and low C/N ratio were connected to low δ13C of peat.


Drainage of 37 years increased δ13C values in the upper peat profile of the drained bog and led to the selective loss of 13C depleted C. Results indicate that C balance studies can be aided by C isotope analyses. Low δ13C values in the peat profile indicate the existence of a wet fen stage during the moist and warm period during Mid-Holocene.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalPlant and Soil
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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