Tradeoff of CO2 and CH4 emissions from global peatlands under water-table drawdown

Yuanyuan Huang, Phillipe Ciais, Yiqi Luo, Dan Zhu, Yingping Wang, Chunjing Qiu, Daniel S. Goll, Bertrand Guenet, David Makowski, Inge De Graaf, Jens Leifeld, Min Jung Kwon, Jing Hu, Laiye Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Water-table drawdown across peatlands increases carbon dioxide (CO2) and reduces methane (CH4) emissions. The net climatic effect remains unclear. Based on global observations from 130 sites, we found a positive (warming) net climate effect of water-table drawdown. Using a machine-learning-based upscaling approach, we predict that peatland water-table drawdown driven by climate drying and human activities will increase CO2 emissions by 1.13 (95% interval: 0.88–1.50) Gt yr−1 and reduce CH4 by 0.26 (0.14–0.52) GtCO2-eq yr−1, resulting in a net increase of greenhouse gas of 0.86 (0.36–1.36) GtCO2-eq yr−1 by the end of the twenty-first century under the RCP8.5 climate scenario. This drops to 0.73 (0.2–1.2) GtCO2-eq yr−1 under RCP2.6. Our results point to an urgent need to preserve pristine and rehabilitate drained peatlands to decelerate the positive feedback among water-table drawdown, increased greenhouse gas emissions and climate warming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)618-622
Number of pages5
JournalNature Climate Change
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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