, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 151-162

Nitrous oxide emissions from a gully mire in mid-Wales, UK, under simulated summer drought

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Certain general circulation models predict that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will increase the frequency of summer drought in northern wetlands due to hotter, drier summers. There is currently much uncertainty as to how drought will affect emissions of the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, from wetlands. We have demonstrated that an eight centimetre drawdown of the water table in a gully mire does not significantly affect nitrous oxide emissions from this site. However, under a more extreme drought scenario carried out on peat monoliths, nitrous oxide emissions increased exponentially with a linear decrease in water table height. Drought caused a significant increase in nitrous oxide production below the water table but most of the total increase could be attributed to increased emissions above the water table. Results from an acetylene block experiment suggested that increased emissions were caused by increased nitrous oxide production from denitrification, rather than by increased production from nitrification. In the laboratory study, drought severity had no effect on peatwater nitrate concentrations below the water table, however, increasing drought severity decreased ammonium concentrations.