Thaw Transitions and Redox Conditions Drive Methane Oxidation in a Permafrost Peatland

Academic Article


  • AbstractPermafrost peatlands are a significant source of methane (CH4) emissions to the atmosphere and could emit more CH4 with continued permafrost thaw. Aerobic methane‐oxidizing bacteria may attenuate a substantial fraction of CH4 emissions in thawing permafrost peatlands; however, the impact of permafrost thaw on CH4 oxidation is uncertain. We measured potential CH4 oxidation rates (hereafter, CH4 oxidation) and their predictors using laboratory incubations and in situ porewater redox chemistry across a permafrost thaw gradient of eight thaw stages at Stordalen Mire, a permafrost peatland complex in northernmost Sweden. Methane oxidation rates increased across a gradient of permafrost thaw and differed in transitional thaw stages relative to end‐member stages. Oxidation was consistently higher in submerged fens than in bogs or palsas across a range of CH4 concentrations. We also observed that CH4 oxidation increased with decreasing in situ redox potential and was highest in sites with lower redox potential (Eh < 10 mV) and high water table. Our results suggest that redox potential can be used as an important predictor of CH4 oxidation, especially in thawed permafrost peatlands. Our results also highlight the importance of considering transitional thaw stages when characterizing landscape‐scale CH4 dynamics, because these transitional areas have different rates and controls of CH4 oxidation relative to intact or completely thawed permafrost areas. As permafrost thaw increases the total area of semiwet and wet thaw stages in permafrost peatlands, CH4 oxidation represents an important control on CH4 emissions to the atmosphere.
  • Authors

  • Perryman, Clarice R
  • Mccalley, Carmody K
  • Malhotra, Avni
  • Fahnestock, Maria Florencia
  • Kashi, Natalie N
  • Bryce, Julie
  • Giesler, Reiner
  • Varner, Ruth
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • March 2020
  • Keywords

  • methane
  • methanotrophs
  • peatland
  • permafrost
  • redox
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)


  • 125
  • Issue

  • 3