Impact of peatland seismic line restoration on CO2 fluxes

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Megan Schmidt , Scott J. Davidson , Maria Strack

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Peatlands account for over 134,000 km2 in northern Alberta and are underlain by a vast network of oil and gas formations. Exploration of deposits requires clearing long, linear grids of 1.5-10 m wide disturbances throughout the boreal (seismic lines). Seismic lines remove surface vegetation and flatten, compact, and depress peat, leading to long-term changes in water table depths and vegetation communities that do not recover with time. Over 135,000 km of seismic lines currently exist in Alberta and have been shown to enhance CO2 and CH4 emissions. Mounding treatments have been applied to peatland well pads to recreate microforms and encourage tree regeneration, but little research has looked at treating seismic lines and none have addressed the impact on greenhouse gas production. We aim to quantify CO2 fluxes from these treatments and determine which treatment facilitates the best recovery to carbon sink over time. During summer 2019 we measured CO2 fluxes and associated environmental variables at three restoration treatments created in March 2019 (two mounding and one ripping) and compared them to fluxes from untreated sections and adjacent natural sites. Mean growing season fluxes of treatments ranged from -8.0 to 1.6 gCO2/m2 /d in the three treatments compared to -12.4gCO2/m2 /d in natural and -15.8 gCO2/m2 /d in untreated sections. CO2 uptake increased with total vascular percent cover and varied with water table and temperature. Overall, GEP and NEE were reduced in the

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program