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K-State Today

September 15, 2021

Geographer published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Submitted by Malorie Sougey

Arnaud Temme, associate professor of geography and geospatial sciences, has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS, the official journal of the academy. Temme's article, "Emerging forest-peatland bi-stability and resilience of European peatland carbon stores," adds to the worldwide climate change conversation.

Peatlands are carbon-rich wetlands that currently cover 3% of the global land surface. The term "peatland" refers to the peat soil and the wetland habitat growing on its surface.

The world's peatlands, mainly in northern latitudes, store incredible amounts of carbon as wet, and sometimes frozen, organic material. If this organic material gets lost in the atmosphere, it will add to global warming. It is, therefore, crucial to find out which peatlands are most vulnerable to such losses.

Temme's team, with his postdoc Ype van de Velde as first author, studied the impact of climate stress on Europe's peatlands by simulating the competition between peat-forming vegetation and forest-forming vegetation. The simulation demonstrated how patterns in landscapes with peat are explained by this competition with forest. Temme and colleagues then explored which peatlands are at risk of losing to the forest, which would also mean that their carbon can get lost to the atmosphere.

"The most exciting phase to me," Temme said, "was the last, where we found out which peatlands were at risk of losing under projected near-future climate and which peatlands are more stable. I find this particularly gratifying because it goes beyond the blanket statement that all peatlands are at risk."

PNAS is one of the world's most-cited and comprehensive multidisciplinary scientific journals, publishing more than 3,500 research papers annually.

 The geography and geospatial sciences department is in the College of Arts and Sciences. Visit the website to learn more.

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