Scientists working at the ongoing Department of Energy’s (DOE) Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Changing Environments (SPRUCE) experiment use the site’s northern Minnesota bog as a laboratory. SPRUCE allowed scientists to warm the air and soil by zero to 9 degrees C above ambient temperatures to depths more than 2m below ground. This warming simulates the effects of climate change on the carbon cycle at the whole ecosystem scale over the long term. The research found that the production of the potent greenhouse gas methane increased at a faster rate than carbon dioxide in response to warming. The results indicate that carbon dioxide release and methane production are stimulated by plants‘ release of metabolites, chemicals that plants create for protection and other functions. The scientists included a team from Georgia Tech led by Joel Kostka, professor and associate chair of research for the School of Biological Sciences, with an adjunct appointment in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
Whole Ecosystem Warming Stimulates Methane Production from Plant Metabolites in Peatlands