Improving estimates of tropical peatland area, carbon storage, and greenhouse gas fluxes

Ian Thomas Lawson, Thomas Kelly, Paul Aplin, Arnoud Boom, Greta Dargie, Frederick Draper, Zamzam Hassan, Jorge Hoyos-Santillan, Jorg Kaduk, David Large, Wayne Murphy, Susan Page, Katherine Helen Roucoux, Sofie Sjogersten, Kevin Tansey, Matthew Waldram, Beatrice Wedeux, James Wheeler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Our limited knowledge of the size of the carbon pool and exchange fluxes in forested lowland tropical peatlands represents a major gap in our understanding of the global carbon cycle. Peat deposits in several regions (e.g. the Congo Basin, much of Amazonia) are only just beginning to be mapped and characterised. Here we consider the extent to which methodological improvements and improved coordination between researchers could help to fill this gap. We review the literature on measurement of the key parameters required to calculate carbon pools and fluxes, including peatland area, peat bulk density, carbon concentration, above-ground carbon stocks, litter inputs to the peat, gaseous carbon exchange, and waterborne carbon fluxes. We identify areas where further research and better coordination are particularly needed in order to reduce the uncertainties in estimates of tropical peatland carbon pools and fluxes, thereby facilitating better-informed management of these exceptionally carbon-rich ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-346
JournalWetlands Ecology and Management
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Peat
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Remote sensing
  • Tropical ecology
  • Carbon cycle


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