Spatially explicit simulation of peatland hydrology and carbon dioxide exchange: Influence of mesoscale topography Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Carbon dynamics in peatlands are controlled, in large part, by their wetness as defined by water table depth and volumetric liquid soil moisture content. A common type of peatland is raised bogs that typically have a multiple‐layer canopy of vascular plants over a Sphagnum moss ground cover. Their convex form restricts water supply to precipitation and water is shed toward the margins, usually by lateral subsurface flow. The hydraulic gradient for lateral subsurface flow is governed by the peat surface topography at the mesoscale (∼200 m to 5 km). To investigate the influence of mesoscale topography on wetness, evapotranspiration (ET), and gross primary productivity (GPP) in a bog during the snow‐free period, we compare the outputs of a further developed version of the daily Boreal Ecosystem Productivity Simulator (BEPS) with observations made at the Mer Bleue peatland, located near Ottawa, Canada. Explicitly considering mesoscale topography, simulated total ET and GPP correlate well with measured ET (r = 0.91) and derived gross ecosystem productivity (GEP; r = 0.92). Both measured ET and derived GEP are simulated similarly well when mesoscale topography is neglected, but daily simulated values are systematically underestimated by about 10% and 12% on average, respectively, due to greater wetness resulting from the lack of lateral subsurface flow. Owing to the differences in moss surface conductances of water vapor and carbon dioxide with increasing moss water content, the differences in the spatial patterns of simulated total ET and GPP are controlled by the mesotopographic position of the moss ground cover.


  • Sonnentag, O
  • Chen, Jing
  • Roulet, NT
  • Ju, W
  • Govind, A

publication date

  • June 2008