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CR 45:151-162 (2010)  -  DOI:

Bioclimatic envelope model of climate change impacts on blanket peatland distribution in Great Britain

Angela V. Gallego-Sala1,10,*, Joanna M. Clark2,3,11, Joanna I. House1, Harriet G. Orr4, I. Colin Prentice1,5,6, Pete Smith7, Timothy Farewell8, Stephen J. Chapman9

1QUEST, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building, Queens Road, Bristol BS8 1RJ, UK
2Wolfson Carbon Capture Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
3Grantham Institute for Climate Change Fellow, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, Skempton Building, South Kensington, London SW7 2AZ, UK
4Research and Innovation (Climate Change), Environment Agency, Environment Centre Wales, Deiniol Road, Bangor LL57 2UW, UK
5Division of Biology, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
6Grantham Institute for Climate Change, Division of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK
7Institute of Biological and Environmental Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Cruickshank Building, 23 St. Machar Drive, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK
8National Soil Resources Institute, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL, UK
9Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
10Present address: Department of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Division of Physical Geography and Ecosystems Analysis, Lund University, Sölvegatan 12, 223 62 Lund, Sweden
11Present 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, Reading RG6 6DW, UK

ABSTRACT: Blanket peatlands are rain-fed mires that cover the landscape almost regardless of topography. The geographical extent of this type of peatland is highly sensitive to climate. We applied a global process-based bioclimatic envelope model, PeatStash, to predict the distribution of British blanket peatlands. The model captures the present areal extent (Kappa = 0.77) and is highly sensitive to both temperature and precipitation changes. When the model is run using the UKCIP02 climate projections for the time periods 2011–2040, 2041–2070 and 2071–2100, the geographical distribution of blanket peatlands gradually retreats towards the north and the west. In the UKCIP02 high emissions scenario for 2071–2100, the blanket peatland bioclimatic space is ~84% smaller than contemporary conditions (1961–1990); only parts of the west of Scotland remain inside this space. Increasing summer temperature is the main driver of the projected changes in areal extent. Simulations using 7 climate model outputs resulted in generally similar patterns of declining aereal extent of the bioclimatic space, although differing in degree. The results presented in this study should be viewed as a first step towards understanding the trends likely to affect the blanket peatland distribution in Great Britain. The eventual fate of existing blanket peatlands left outside their bioclimatic space remains uncertain.

KEY WORDS: Bioclimatic envelope · Model · Blanket peatlands · Peat · Climate change · Great Britain

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Cite this article as: Gallego-Sala AV, Clark JM, House JI, Orr HG and others (2010) Bioclimatic envelope model of climate change impacts on blanket peatland distribution in Great Britain. Clim Res 45:151-162.

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