, Volume 137, Issue 1–2, pp 15–25 | Cite as

Wetland flux controls: how does interacting water table levels and temperature influence carbon dioxide and methane fluxes in northern Wisconsin?

  • Carolyn A. Pugh
  • David E. Reed
  • Ankur R. Desai
  • Benjamin N. Sulman
Biogeochemistry Letters


Wetlands play a disproportionately large role in global terrestrial carbon stocks, and from 1 year to the next individual wetlands can fluctuate between carbon sinks and sources depending on factors such as hydrology, temperature, and land use. Although much research has been done on short-term seasonal to annual wetland biogeochemical cycles, there is a lack of experimental evidence concerning how the reversibility of wetland hydrological changes will influence these cycles over longer time periods. Five years of drought-induced declining water table at Lost Creek, a shrub fen wetland in northern Wisconsin, coincided with increased ecosystem respiration (Reco) and gross primary production (GPP) as derived from long-term eddy covariance observations. Since then, however, the average water table level at this site has increased, providing a unique opportunity to explore how wetland carbon fluxes are affected by interannual air temperature differences as well as changing water table levels. Water table level, as measured by water discharge, was correlated with Reco and GPP at interannual time scales. However, air temperature had a strong correlation with Reco, GPP, and net ecosystem productivity (NEP) at monthly time scales and correlated with NEP at inter-annual time scales. Methane flux was strongly temperature-controlled at seasonal time scales, increasing an order of magnitude from April to July. Annual methane emissions were 51 g C m−2. Our results demonstrate that over multi-year timescales, water table fluctuations can have limited effects on wetland net carbon fluxes and instead at Lost Creek annual temperature is the best predictor of interannual variation.


Eddy covariance Carbon flux Wetlands 



The authors would like to thank Jonathan Thom for technical field help at US‐Los and Yost R. for dogged assistance throughout analysis. Flux data is archived as part of the FLUXNET 2015 data release, discharge data is archived by the USGS and MODIS NDVI data is archived by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This work was supported National Science Foundation Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (#GEO-1430396), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), National Institute for Climatic Change Research (NICCR) Midwestern Region Subagreement 050516Z19, and Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Ameriflux Network Management Project Subcontract to ChEAS Core Site Cluster. B. Sulman is supported by award NA14OAR4320106 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and Recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Supplementary material

10533_2017_414_MOESM1_ESM.docx (218 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 217 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Center for Global Change and Earth ObservationsMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  4. 4.Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic SciencesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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