Soil Metabolome Response to Whole-Ecosystem Warming at the Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments Experiment

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While peatlands have historically stored massive amounts of soil carbon, warming is expected to enhance decomposition, leading to a positive feedback with climate change. In this study, a unique whole-ecosystem warming experiment was conducted in northern Minnesota to warm peat profiles to 2 m deep while keeping water flow intact. After nearly 2 y, warming enhanced the degradation of soil organic matter and increased greenhouse gas production. Changes in organic matter quality with warming were accompanied by a stimulation of methane production relative to carbon dioxide. Our results revealed increased decomposition to be fueled by the availability of reactive carbon substrates produced by surface vegetation. The elevated rates of methanogenesis are likely to persist and exacerbate climate warming.


This article was originally published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), volume 118, issue 25, in 2021.


National Academy of Sciences