Ecohydrological feedbacks confound peat-based climate reconstructions

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Swindles, Graeme T. ; Morris, Paul J. ; Baird, Andy J. ; Blaauw, Maarten ; Plunkett, Gill (2012)
  • Publisher: American Geophysical Union
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1029/2012GL051500
  • Subject: Earth and Planetary Sciences(all) | /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900/1908 | /dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900 | Geophysics

Water-table reconstructions from Holocene peatlands are increasingly being used as indicators of terrestrial palaeoclimate in many regions of the world. However, the links between peatland water tables, climate, and long-term peatland development are poorly understood. Here we use a combination of high-resolution proxy climate data and a model of long-term peatland development to examine the relationship between rapid hydrological fluctuations in peatlands and climatic forcing. We show that changes in water-table depth can occur independently of climate forcing. Ecohydrological feedbacks inherent in peatland development can lead to a degree of homeostasis that partially disconnects peatland water-table behaviour from external climatic influences. We conclude by suggesting that further work needs to be done before peat-based climate reconstructions can be used to test climate models.
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