ATM Science Seminar: "Changing Land-Atmosphere Interactions in Canadian Boreal Peat Landscapes"

Presented by: Dr. Manuel Helbig, PhD, McMaster University

Boreal peatlands cover about one eighth of the land area of Canada and store more than 50% of organic carbon in Canadian soils. Through the land-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4) and energy, these peatlands play an important role in the climate system. Climate change is expected to induce land-atmosphere feedbacks through vegetation changes, permafrost thaw, and changes in thermal and hydrological conditions with unknown consequences for the global climate.

In Canada, peatlands are particularly abundant in two ecozones: the Taiga Plains and the Hudson Bay Lowlands. In peat landscapes of the southern Taiga Plains, thawing permafrost and an associated forest loss alter the exchange of CO2, CH4, and energy. In the Hudson Bay Lowlands, land-atmosphere fluxes of CO2 show a wide range of responses to climate change across the dominant peatland ecosystems due to differences in vegetation dynamics.

In my research, I quantify how thaw-induced land cover change alters land-atmosphere interactions in the Taiga Plains and how CO2 fluxes between peatlands and atmosphere respond to warming air temperatures in the Hudson Bay Lowlands. To address these questions, I combine eddy covariance flux measurements with satellite remote sensing and modelling approaches. My research reveals warming and cooling climate effects of thaw-induced forest loss and highlights spatial differences of CO2 flux responses to warming across boreal peat landscapes. These findings help to constrain land-atmosphere feedback at high latitudes in a changing climate.


Atmospheric Science Seminars



Dunn 304