Dynamic Vertical Profiles of Peat Porewater Chemistry in a Northern Peatland
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We measured pH, cations, nutrients, and total organic carbon (TOC) over 3 years to examine weekly to monthly variability in porewater chemistry depth profiles (0–3.0 m) in an ombrotrophic bog in Minnesota, USA. We also compared temporal variation at one location to spatial variation in depth profiles at 16 locations across the bog. Most solutes exhibited large gradients with depth. pH increased by two units and calcium concentrations increased over 20 fold with depth, and may reflect peatland development from minerotrophic to ombrotrophic conditions. Ammonium concentrations increased almost 20 fold and TOC concentrations decreased by half with depth, and these patterns likely reflect mineralization of peat or decomposition of TOC. There was also considerable temporal variation in the porewater chemistry depth profiles. Ammonium, soluble reactive phosphorus, and potassium showed greater temporal variation in near-surface porewater, while pH, calcium, and TOC varied more at depth. This variation demonstrates that deep peat porewater chemistry is not static. Lastly, temporal variation in solute chemistry depth profiles was greater than spatial variation in several instances, especially in shallow porewaters. Characterizing both temporal and spatial variability is necessary to ensure representative sampling in peatlands, especially when calculating solute pools and fluxes and parameterizing process-based models.