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Erosion in peatlands: Recent research progress and future directions

Li, Changjia, Grayson, Richard, Holden, Joseph, Li, Pengfei
Earth-science reviews 2018 v.185 pp. 870-886
carbon, climate change, humans, land management, meta-analysis, models, peat, peatlands, prediction, soil, surveys
Peatlands cover approximately 2.84% of global land area while storing one third to one half of the world's soil carbon. While peat erosion is a natural process it has been enhanced by human mismanagement in many places worldwide. Enhanced peat erosion is a serious ecological and environmental problem that can have severe on-site and off-site impacts. A 2007 monograph by Evans and Warburton synthesized our understanding of peatland erosion at the time and here we provide an update covering: i) peat erosion processes across different scales; ii) techniques used to measure peat erosion; iii) factors affecting peat erosion; and iv) meta-analyses of reported peat erosion rates. We found that over the last decade there has been significant progress in studying the causes and effects of peat erosion and some progress in modelling peat erosion. However, there has been little progress in developing our understanding of the erosion processes. Despite the application of new peat surveying techniques there has been a lack of their use to specifically understand spatial and temporal peat erosion dynamics or processes in a range of peatland environments. Improved process understanding and more data on rates of erosion at different scales are urgently needed in order to improve model development and enable better predictions of future peat erosion under climate change and land management practices. We identify where further research is required on basic peat erosion processes, application of new and integrated measurement of different variables and the impact of drivers or mitigation techniques that may affect peat erosion.