Tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia have sequestered carbon over thousands of years and are an important global carbon stock. In natural peat swamp forests, high water levels, warm temperature and availability of carbon make them a perfect environment for methane producing microorganisms to thrive and produce increased quantities of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas known to contribute significantly to the global climate. Despite these ideal methane producing conditions, methane measurements from peat surfaces in tropical peatlands indicate that these ecosystems only release a fraction of methane compared to peatlands in other regions. Acidic conditions in peat and increased microbial methane oxidation by tree roots or within the peat surface have been suggested as possible theories to explain the low methane emissions from this region. In this project we will look at an alternative methane transport theory (figure 1) that may help explain the low methane emissions from the tropical peat surfaces. We propose that the observed low methane fluxes from the peat surface are the result of most methane being released via alternative pathways, namely 1) lateral transport into water courses and 2) tree transport to the atmosphere. Both these methane transport pathways have not been fully measured from any of the tropical peatland, which may have led to the earlier lower methane estimates.
Fully funded UK/EU PhD studentship
Full studentships (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£15,009 2019/20 [tax free])) for UK/EU students for 4 years, funded by the Royal Society. Unfortunately, funding is not available for International (non-EU) students.