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Dating of ancient peat in northern Sweden contribute to new insight into global carbon cycle

Buried peat
50000-year-old peat is seen as a dark layer buried under 2 m of sediment deposited by the Scandinavian ice sheet. Thorbjörg Sigfúsdóttir investigates the sediments at Rauvospakka in Norrbotten, N Sweden. Photo: H Alexanderson, Lund University.

Scientists have unearthed and pieced together evidence on more than 1,000 ancient wetland sites from across the globe, that are presently covered by fields, forests and lakes. Although vanished from the Earth’s surface, these buried sites could explain some of the differences between global carbon cycle models and real-life observations, as shown in a study now published in PNAS. Work done at the Department of Geology at Lund University has contributed with data from one of these buried sites. Datings made by Helena Alexanderson at the Lund Luminescence Laboratory show that buried peat and lake sediments in northernmost Sweden are 50 000 years old. Tied to this publication is also the master thesis of Thorbjörg Sigfúsdóttir, where she has reconstructed the depositional environment at the site.

Read more here

  • Press release about the PNAS article, from University of Eastern Finland (main author)
  • The original study in PNAS: Treat, C. C., Kleinen, T., Broothaerts, N., Dalton, A. S., Dommain, R., Douglas, T. A., Drexler, J. Z., Finkelstein, S. A., Grosse, G., Hope, G., Hutchings, J., Jones, M. C., Kuhry, P., Lacourse, T., Lähteenoja, O., Loisel, J., Notebaert, B., Payne, R. J., Peteet, D. M., Sannel, A. B. K., Stelling, J. M., Strauss, J., Swindles, G. T., Talbot, J., Tarnocai, C., Verstraeten, G., Williams, C. J., Xia, Z., Yu, Z., Väliranta, M., Hättestrand, M., Alexanderson, H. & Brovkin, V. 2019: Widespread global peatland establishment and persistence over the last 130,000 y. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201813305.
  • Thorbjörg Sigfúsdóttir’s master thesis: A sedimentological and stratigraphical study of Veiki moraine in northernmost Sweden. Dissertations in Geology at Lund University, no 354.

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