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CR 45:131-150 (2010)  -  DOI:

Assessing the vulnerability of blanket peat to climate change using an ensemble of statistical bioclimatic envelope models

J. M. Clark1,2,10,*, A. V. Gallego-Sala3,11, T. E. H. Allott4, S. J. Chapman5, T. Farewell6, C. Freeman1, J. I. House3, H. G. Orr7, I. C. Prentice1,3,8, P. Smith8,9

1Wolfson Carbon Capture Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
2Grantham Institute for Climate Change Fellow, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, Skempton Building, South Kensington, London SW7 2AZ, UK
3QUEST, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK
4School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
5Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
6National Soils Research Institute, Cranfield University, College Road, Cranfield, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL, UK
7Research and Innovation (Climate Change), Environment Agency, Environment Centre Wales, Deiniol Road, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK
8Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Division of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK
9Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, Aberdeen University, 23 St Machar Drive, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK
10Present address: Walker Institute for Climate Systems Research and Soils Research Centre, Geography and Environmental Science, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 233, Reading RG6 6DW, UK
11Present address: Department of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Division of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, University of Lund, Sölvegatan 12, 223 62 Lund, Sweden

ABSTRACT: We assessed the vulnerability of blanket peat to climate change in Great Britain using an ensemble of 8 bioclimatic envelope models. We used 4 published models that ranged from simple threshold models, based on total annual precipitation, to Generalised Linear Models (GLMs, based on mean annual temperature). In addition, 4 new models were developed which included measures of water deficit as threshold, classification tree, GLM and generalised additive models (GAM). Models that included measures of both hydrological conditions and maximum temperature provided a better fit to the mapped peat area than models based on hydrological variables alone. Under UKCIP02 projections for high (A1F1) and low (B1) greenhouse gas emission scenarios, 7 out of the 8 models showed a decline in the bioclimatic space associated with blanket peat. Eastern regions (Northumbria, North York Moors, Orkney) were shown to be more vulnerable than higher-altitude, western areas (Highlands, Western Isles and Argyle, Bute and The Trossachs). These results suggest a long-term decline in the distribution of actively growing blanket peat, especially under the high emissions scenario, although it is emphasised that existing peatlands may well persist for decades under a changing climate. Observational data from long-term monitoring and manipulation experiments in combination with process-based models are required to explore the nature and magnitude of climate change impacts on these vulnerable areas more fully.

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Peat · Bioclimatic envelope model · Great Britain · Uplands

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Cite this article as: Clark JM, Gallego-Sala AV, Allott TEH, Chapman SJ and others (2010) Assessing the vulnerability of blanket peat to climate change using an ensemble of statistical bioclimatic envelope models. Clim Res 45:131-150.

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