C-PEAT - Carbon in Peat on EArth through Time


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Launch     Synthesis
June 2014 2015 2016 2017



A peat bog in Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, southern South America. Photo credit: Zicheng Yu.


Peatlands represent the largest carbon (C) pool as peat in the terrestrial biosphere. At present they store ~600 Pg C that has accumulated mostly since the Last Glacial Maximum. Northern (boreal and sub-Arctic) peatlands contain >90% of this C pool, followed by tropical and southern peatlands. Obviously the size of this peat C pool changes over time during the history of the Earth.

We know that peatlands played a major role in the global carbon cycle during the Holocene as recognized by the latest IPCC report published in 2013; however, we still lack understanding of climate sensitivity of these C-rich ecosystems, especially at continental and regional scales. Also, the lack of data and knowledge on some fundamental peatland processes, such as peatland lateral expansion and fen-to-bog transition, hinders large-scale synthesis and global modeling efforts.  Furthermore, we have little idea about the C pool size and dynamics of peat deposits further back in time, such as during the previous interglacials, the Pliocene and beyond.  

Understanding the climate sensitivity and contribution of peat deposits to the global carbon cycle in the past, particularly their impact on atmospheric CO2 and CH4 concentrations, is critical to projecting their change in the future. Paleo data are essential not only for documenting carbon sequestration histories but also for evaluating and validating global climate-carbon cycle models.


The C-PEAT Working Group aims to facilitate the interactions of international peat C researchers working on peat of all ages, including ecosystem and global modeling scientists. We continue to focus our effort on the Holocene because of the abundance of information available, but we also start our exploration of pre-Holocene peats using what we have learned from the studies of Holocene-age peatlands.

C-PEAT aims to synthesize data and knowledge on all topics related to peat carbon, and for the current phase has set up the following topical groups:
1. Tropical peatlands
2. Permafrost peat C stock
3. Lost peats underwater or on land
4. Peat during glacial-interglacial cycle
5. Pre-Quaternary peats
6. Data analysis methods
7. Peatland process modeling

Learn more and participate

Subscribe to the C-PEAT mailing list here.

This group is open to anyone who is interested, to participate contact the Group Leaders.