Soil incubations reproduce field methane dynamics in a subarctic wetland

Suzanne B. Hodgkins, Jeffrey P. Chanton, Lauren C. Langford, Carmody K. McCalley, Scott R. Saleska, Virginia I. Rich, Patrick M. Crill, William T. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


A major challenge in peatland carbon cycle modeling is the estimation of subsurface methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) production and consumption rates and pathways. The most common methods for modeling these processes are soil incubations and stable isotope modeling, both of which may involve departures from field conditions. To explore the impacts of these departures, we measured CH4/CO2 concentration ratios and 13C fractionation factors (αC, indicating CH4 production pathways) in field pore water from a thawing subarctic peatland, and compared these values to those observed in incubations of corresponding peat samples. Incubation CH4/CO2 production ratios were significantly and positively correlated with observed field CH4/CO2 concentration ratios, though observed field ratios were ~20 % of those in incubations due to CH4’s lower solubility in pore water. After correcting the field ratios for CH4 loss with an isotope mass balance model, the incubation CH4/CO2 ratios and αC were both significantly positively correlated with field ratios and αC (respectively), both with slopes indistinguishable from 1. Although CH4/CO2 ratios and αC were slightly higher in the incubations, these shifts were consistent along the thaw progression, indicating that ex situ incubations can replicate trends in in situ CH4 production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Geochemistry
  • Methane
  • Peatlands
  • Soil incubations
  • Stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Soil incubations reproduce field methane dynamics in a subarctic wetland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this