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Latitudinal limits to the predicted increase of the peatland carbon sink with warming

Gallego-Sala, Angela V.; Charman, Dan J.; Brewer, Simon; Page, Susan E.; Prentice, I. Colin; Friedlingstein, Pierre; Moreton, Steve; Amesbury, Matthew J.; Beilman, David W.; Björck, Svante; Blyakharchuk, Tatiana; Bochicchio, Christopher; Booth, Robert K.; Bunbury, Joan; Camill, Philip; Carless, Donna; Chimner, Rodney A.; Clifford, Michael; Cressey, Elizabeth; Courtney-Mustaphi, Colin; De Vleeschouwer, François; de Jong, Rixt; Fialkiewicz-Koziel, Barbara; Finkelstein, Sarah A.; Garneau, Michelle; Githumbi, Esther; Hribjlan, John; Holmquist, James; Hughes, Paul D.M.; Jones, Chris; Jones, Miriam C.; Karofeld, Edgar; Klein, Eric S.; Kokfelt, Ulla; Korhola, Atte; Lacourse, Terri; Le Roux, Gael; Lamentowicz, Mariusz; Large, David; Lavoie, Martin; Loisel, Julie; Mackay, Helen; MacDonald, Glen M.; Makila, Markku; Magnan, Gabriel; Marchant, Robert; Marcisz, Katarzyna; Martínez Cortizas, Antonio; Massa, Charly; Mathijssen, Paul; Mauquoy, Dmitri; Mighall, Timothy; Mitchell, Fraser J.G.; Moss, Pat...


Angela V. Gallego-Sala

Dan J. Charman

Simon Brewer

Susan E. Page

I. Colin Prentice

Pierre Friedlingstein

Steve Moreton

Matthew J. Amesbury

David W. Beilman

Svante Björck

Tatiana Blyakharchuk

Christopher Bochicchio

Robert K. Booth

Joan Bunbury

Philip Camill

Donna Carless

Rodney A. Chimner

Michael Clifford

Elizabeth Cressey

Colin Courtney-Mustaphi

François De Vleeschouwer

Rixt de Jong

Barbara Fialkiewicz-Koziel

Sarah A. Finkelstein

Michelle Garneau

Esther Githumbi

John Hribjlan

James Holmquist

Paul D.M. Hughes

Chris Jones

Miriam C. Jones

Edgar Karofeld

Eric S. Klein

Ulla Kokfelt

Atte Korhola

Terri Lacourse

Gael Le Roux

Mariusz Lamentowicz

David Large

Martin Lavoie

Julie Loisel

Glen M. MacDonald

Markku Makila

Gabriel Magnan

Robert Marchant

Katarzyna Marcisz

Antonio Martínez Cortizas

Charly Massa

Paul Mathijssen

Dmitri Mauquoy

Timothy Mighall

Fraser J.G. Mitchell

Patrick Moss

Jonathan Nichols

Pirita O. Oksanen

Lisa Orme

Maara S. Packalen

Stephen Robinson

Thomas P. Roland

Nicole K. Sanderson

A. Britta K. Sannel

Noemí Silva-Sánchez

Natascha Steinberg

Graeme T. Swindles

T. Edward Turner

Joanna Uglow

Minna Väliranta

Simon van Bellen

Marjolein van der Linden

Bas van Geel

Guoping Wang

Zicheng Yu

Joana Zaragoza-Castells

Yan Zhao


The carbon sink potential of peatlands depends on the balance of carbon uptake by plants and microbial decomposition. The rates of both these processes will increase with warming but it remains unclear which will dominate the global peatland response. Here we examine the global relationship between peatland carbon accumulation rates during the last millennium and planetary-scale climate space. A positive relationship is found between carbon accumulation and cumulative photosynthetically active radiation during the growing season for mid- to high-latitude peatlands in both hemispheres. However, this relationship reverses at lower latitudes, suggesting that carbon accumulation is lower under the warmest climate regimes. Projections under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP)2.6 and RCP8.5 scenarios indicate that the present-day global sink will increase slightly until around AD 2100 but decline thereafter. Peatlands will remain a carbon sink in the future, but their response to warming switches from a negative to a positive climate feedback (decreased carbon sink with warming) at the end of the twenty-first century.


Gallego-Sala, A. V., Charman, D. J., Brewer, S., Page, S. E., Prentice, I. C., Friedlingstein, P., …Zhao, Y. (2018). Latitudinal limits to the predicted increase of the peatland carbon sink with warming. Nature Climate Change, 8(10), 907–913.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 7, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 10, 2018
Publication Date 2018-10
Deposit Date Oct 29, 2020
Journal Nature Climate Change
Print ISSN 1758-678X
Electronic ISSN 1758-6798
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 10
Pages 907–913
Public URL