University of Oulu

Menberu, M. W., Marttila, H., Ronkanen, A.-K., Haghighi, A. T., & Kløve, B. (2021). Hydraulic and physical properties of managed and intact peatlands: Application of the van Genuchten-Mualem models to peat soils. Water Resources Research, 57, e2020WR028624.

Hydraulic and physical properties of managed and intact peatlands : application of the van Genuchten-Mualem models to peat soils

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Author: Menberu, Meseret Walle1,2; Marttila, Hannu1; Ronkanen, Anna-Kaisa1;
Organizations: 1Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Freshwater Centre, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Geophysical Union, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-09-23


Undisturbed peatlands are effective carbon sinks and provide a variety of ecosystem services. However, anthropogenic disturbances, especially land drainage, strongly alter peat soil properties and jeopardize the benefits of peatlands. The effects of disturbances should therefore be assessed and predicted. To support accurate modeling, this study determined the physical and hydraulic properties of intact and disturbed peat samples collected from 59 sites (in total 3,073 samples) in Finland and Norway. The bulk density (BD), porosity, and specific yield (Sy) values obtained indicated that the top layer (0–30 cm depth) at agricultural and peat extraction sites was most affected by land use change. The BD in the top layer at agricultural, peat extraction, and forestry sites was 441%, 140%, and 92% higher, respectively, than that of intact peatlands. Porosity decreased with increased BD, but not linearly. Agricultural and peat extraction sites had the lowest saturated hydraulic conductivity, Sy, and porosity, and the highest BD of the land use options studied. The van Genuchten-Mualem (vGM) soil water retention curve (SWRC) and hydraulic conductivity (K) models proved to be applicable for the peat soils tested, providing values of SWRC, K, and vGM-parameters (α and n) for peat layers (top, middle and bottom) under different land uses. A decrease in peat soil water content of ≥10% reduced the unsaturated K values by two orders of magnitude. This unique data set can be used to improve hydrological modeling in peat-dominated catchments and for fuller integration of peat soils into large-scale hydrological models.

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Series: Water resources research
ISSN: 0043-1397
ISSN-E: 1944-7973
ISSN-L: 0043-1397
Volume: 57
Issue: 7
Article number: e2020WR028624
DOI: 10.1029/2020WR028624
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
218 Environmental engineering
Funding: Data were collected as part of many past and ongoing projects. We thank all data providers who made this study possible. Writing and data analysis were conducted as part of the PeatWise project (project number 4400T-1002) funded by FACCA ERA-GAS, the WaterPeat project (project number 326848) funded by WaterWorks ERA-NET, the WaterAgri project (project number 858375) funded by Horizon2020, the MYR project (project number 281109) funded by the Norwegian Research Council, the BioWater project (project number 82263) funded by the Nordic Centre of Excellence, FRESHABIT LIFE IP (LIFE14/IPE/FI/023) project funded by the LIFE program of the European Union and a postdoctoral project funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. There is no conflict of interest related to this research work.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 326848
Detailed Information: 326848 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.