Controls on Ebullition in Alaskan Peatlands Following Permafrost Degradation
Degradation of permafrost in peatlands can convert forested peat plateaus to inundated collapse bogs. Due to increased unfrozen soil carbon stocks and more saturated conditions, collapse bogs can potentially be large emitters of methane. Using a network of bubble traps permanently installed in peat, I tested several hypotheses about controls on ebullition in collapse bogs with varying time since thaw in interior Alaska. Ebullition increased during the growing season, likely due to increased substrate availability and warmer soils. Bubbles were found primarily in shallow peat layers, and were dominated by modern carbon. Ebullition hot spots were associated with high sedge density throughout the collapse sites. Episodic ebullition occurred during atmospheric pressure changes. Overall, my study demonstrated that permafrost thaw in peatlands will result in methane emissions through ebullition that include both young and old carbon, contradictory to the generally accepted paradigm; that ebullition in peatlands is solely a surface process.