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AUGER - Peatland properties influencing greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals

AUGER Project: peAtland properties inflUencing greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020

Background

Peatlands have played an important role in climate regulation over the past 10,000 years. Pristine peatlands in Ireland are currently a small C sink (absorbing CO2 while emitting CH4) but represent less than 20% of the current national resource. Anthropogenic disturbances, mainly in the form of drainage (for agriculture and forestry) and peat extraction result in increased CO2 and N2O emissions, and reduced CH4 emissions. There are two options for mitigating GHG emissions from peatlands: avoiding new or recurrent drainage and reducing emissions on the existing drained areas. Climate policy instruments involving mitigation on peat soils are not being implemented in Ireland due to lack of basic information on the peatland resource and in particular its properties. This knowledge gap should be addressed in order to fully quantify the role of human activities on the climate footprint of Irish peatlands. Therefore the main objective of this project is to carry out a nationwide survey to document the properties of various types of peatlands and peat soils, how they are affected by various management options and how this influences the C and GHG dynamics of these systems, thereby quantifying the role of human activities on the climate footprint of Irish peatlands.

The key objectives of the project are as follows:

1) Review of Ireland’s need for C stock and GHG flux monitoring capacities on peatland sites; Identification of priority site types; Assessment of potential candidate sites for such network, including detailed information on current monitoring sites as well as proposed programme of monitoring activities.

2) Review of current models and tools used to assess peatland condition, and review of the significance of peatland properties and management in modelling GHG emissions.

3) Characterisation of peatland types (LUC) and their associated edaphic and ecosystem properties. This will build on existing data to identify potential gaps to be filled and will be further informed by a nationwide peatland survey of physical, chemical and ecological parameters of peatlands and peat soils (and overall assessment condition). Compilation of database regrouping all types of peatlands under existing LUC (including ‘natural’) and management.

4) Support of on-going field observations and modelling of GHG emission/removals at 2 core peatland sites: Moyarwood and Clara bogs.

5) Modelling of anthropogenic impacts on GHG emissions: development of ECOSSE model with collaboration from modelling specialists in Scotland (training of post-doctoral researcher), to allow Ireland to move to Tier 3 level of reporting.

Targets:

  1. Review of the requirements for a representative C observation network in Ireland including potential candidate sites.
  2. Proposed programme of measurement activities to reliably characterise C stocks and GHG emissions/removals.
  3. Database to include past and new field observations of all peat soils parameters; ecosystem properties and measurement protocols.
  4. Development of a field guide for rapid assessment of peatland condition.
  5. Field observations to supplement (a) existing GHG data and modelling database, and feed into WP3 database, GHG data to be used as independent validation of ECOSSE model outputs; (b) high resolution peat properties and (c) hydrological regime analysis.
  6. Model output and site validation of simulated GHG emission/removals from various peatland LUCD; national  upscaling of peatland GHG emission/removals (link with other project in this Call).
  7. Knowledge capacity building available to EPA.
  8.  Four open-access peer-reviewed papers and four conference proceedings.

 

 

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This 36 month project is based around 5 WPs with the project management led by University College Dublin (UCD) and partners in University of Limerick (UL), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), with input from Earthy Matters Environmental Consultants (EM). Find out more about the AUGER team here

 

Read about the project in the issue 1.2017 of Peatland International

 AUGER poster presented at the IPS Aberdeen 2017

Poster