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  • Publication
    Impacts of a mature forestry plantation on blanket peatland runoff regime and water quality
    A lack of information concerning the hydrology and hydrogeology of intact blanket bogs limits current understanding of how their alteration to mature forestry plantations impacts stream flow and associated water quality. An integrated hydrological/hydrogeological monitoring programme compared processes operating in a relatively intact blanket peat-covered catchment with conditions encountered in an adjacent area under closed canopy plantation forestry. Groundwater monitoring revealed contrasting water level regimes and deeper summer water tables in the afforested area, with forest groundwater also having more elevated specific electrical conductance (SEC) and containing higher concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Near-simultaneous pairwise runoff sampling at the relatively intact catchment and afforested catchment outlets demonstrated no significant difference in DOC concentration. Conversely, water samples from the afforested catchment outlet displayed significantly greater SEC; this arose in part because of higher concentrations of dissolved calcium and magnesium, discharging via artificial drainage. Comparison of base flow runoff SEC with peat groundwater samples reflected in significant contrasts in ionic signature and greater levels of mineralisation in surface water, pointing to contributions of deeper water, derived from inorganic substrate materials. Study findings indicate that disturbance to the ground in that part of the catchment under plantation forestry has led to greater variations in stream flow and water quality for aquatic ecosystems. Comparable conditions have been observed instreams flowing through plantation forestry in similar physical settings elsewhere. Study findings suggest that plantations on deep peat can adversely affect stream ecosystems and this may impact on a water body's legal status.
  • Publication
    Carbon and climate implications of rewetting a raised bog in Ireland
    Peatland rewetting has been proposed as a vital climate change mitigation tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to generate suitable conditions for the return of carbon (C) sequestration. In this study, we present annual C balances for a 5-year period at a rewetted peatland in Ireland (rewetted at the start of the study) and compare the results with an adjacent drained area (represents business-as-usual). Hydrological modelling of the 230-hectare site was carried out to determine the likely ecotopes (vegetation communities) that will develop post-rewetting and was used to inform a radiative forcing modelling exercise to determine the climate impacts of rewetting this peatland under five high-priority scenarios (SSP1-1.9, SS1-2.6, SSP2-4.5, SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5). The drained area (marginal ecotope) was a net C source throughout the study and emitted 157 ± 25.5 g C m−2 year−1. In contrast, the rewetted area (sub-central ecotope) was a net C sink of 78.0 ± 37.6 g C m−2 year−1, despite relatively large annual methane emissions post-rewetting (average 19.3 ± 5.2 g C m−2 year−1). Hydrological modelling predicted the development of three key ecotopes at the site, with the sub-central ecotope predicted to cover 24% of the site, the sub-marginal predicted to cover 59% and the marginal predicted to cover 16%. Using these areal estimates, our radiative forcing modelling projects that under the SSP1-1.9 scenario, the site will have a warming effect on the climate until 2085 but will then have a strong cooling impact. In contrast, our modelling exercise shows that the site will never have a cooling impact under the SSP5-8.5 scenario. Our results confirm the importance of rapid rewetting of drained peatland sites to (a) achieve strong C emissions reductions, (b) establish optimal conditions for C sequestration and (c) set the site on a climate cooling trajectory.
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