Quantifying organic carbon fluxes from upland peat

  • Phai Do

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractThe University of ManchesterDo Duy PhaiPhDQuantifying organic carbon fluxes from upland peat21st March 2012Present organic carbon fluxes from an upland peat catchment were quantified through measurement of in-situ direct and indirect greenhouse gas fluxes. To predict future greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes, peat from eroded (E) and uneroded (U) site of an upland peat catchment was characterized.Composition of peat from E and U sites at the Crowden Great Brook catchment, Peak District Nation Park, UK that was characterized by Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) at 700 oC. Pyrolysis products of the peat were then classified using the Vancampenhout classification into 6 compound classes - viz. aromatic and polyaromatic (Ar), phenols (Ph), lignin compounds (Lg), soil lipids (Lp), polysaccharide compounds (Ps) and N-compounds (N). There was no significant difference in the composition between the eroded and uneroded sites within the study area or between peats from different depths within each site. Nevertheless, there was a significant difference between sites in the proportions of Sphagnum that had contributed to the peat. Pyrolysis products of the peat were also classified into pedogenic (Pd) and aquagenic (Aq) OC - the mean percentage of Pd in both eroded and uneroded peats was 43.93 ± 4.30 % with the balance of the OC classified as Aq.Greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes were quantified directly by in-situ continuous measurement of GHG was carried out at the E and U sites of the catchment using a GasClam: mean in-situ gas concentrations of CH4 (1.30 ± 0.04 % v/v (E), 0.59 ± 0.05 % v/v (U) and CO2 (8.83 ± 0.22 % v/v (E), 1.77 ± 0.03 % v/v (U)) were observed, with both the CH4 and CO2 concentrations apparently unrelated to atmospheric pressure and temperature changes. Laboratory measurements of ex-situ gas production - for both CH4 and CO2 this was higher for U site soils than for E site soils. At the U site, maximum production rates of both CH4 (46.11±1.47 mMol t-1 day-1) and CO2 (45.56 ± 10.19 mMol t-1 day-1) were observed for 0-50 cm depth in soils. Increased temperature did not affect gas production, whilst increased oxygen increased gas production. The CH4/CO2 ratios observed in-situ are not similar to those observed in the ex-situ laboratory experiments; suggest that some caution is advised in interpreting the latter. However, the maximum OC loss of 2.3 wt. % observed after 20 weeks of ex-situ incubation is nevertheless consistent with the long-term degradation noted by Bellamy et al (1985) from organic-rich UK soils. Indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes were quantified through the mass flux of suspended organic carbon (SsOC) drained from studied catchments. The SsOC was quantified by interpolating and rating methods. Unfiltered (UF) organic carbon (OC) fluxes in 2010 were calculated to be 8.86 t/km2/yr for the eroded sub-catchment and 6.74 t/km2/yr for the uneroded sub-catchment. All the rating relationships have a large amount of scatter. Both UF OC and
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorClare Robinson (Supervisor), David Polya (Supervisor), Stephen Boult (Supervisor) & Bart Van Dongen (Supervisor)


  • Upland peat, characterization of peat, particle size distribution, deposite sediment, suspended sediment, organic carbon fluxes, in-situ direct and indirect greenhouse gas fluxes, ex-situ laboratory experiments, eroded (E) and uneroded (U), Pyrolysis-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (Py-GC-MS); aromatic and polyaromatic (Ar), phenols (Ph), lignin compounds (Lg), soil lipids (Lp), polysaccharide compounds (Ps) and N-compounds (N).

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