University of Oulu

Morris, P. J., Davies, M. L., Baird, A. J., Balliston, N., Bourgault, M.-A., Clymo, R. S., et al. (2022). Saturated hydraulic conductivity in northern peats inferred from other measurements. Water Resources Research, 58, e2022WR033181.

Saturated hydraulic conductivity in northern peats inferred from other measurements

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Author: Morris, P. J.1; Davies, M. L.1; Baird, A. J.1;
Organizations: 1School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
2Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
3Département de géographie, Université Laval, Québec, QC, Canada
4School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK
5School of Earth, Environment and Society, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
6Aquanty Inc, Waterloo, ON, Canada
7Faculty of Science and Technology, Athabasca University, Athabasca, AB, Canada
8Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
9Département des sciences de la Terre et de l'atmosphère, GRIL and Geotop Research Centers, Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada
10Freshwater Centre, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Oulu and Helsinki, Finland
11Groundwater Research Group, Institut de Recherche en Mines et en Environnement, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Amos, QC, Canada
12Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
13Department of Geography and Environment, Brandon University, Brandon, MB, Canada
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Geophysical Union, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-01-20


In northern peatlands, near-saturated surface conditions promote valuable ecosystem services such as carbon storage and drinking water provision. Peat saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) plays an important role in maintaining wet surface conditions by moderating drainage and evapotranspiration. Peat Ksat can exhibit intense spatial variability in three dimensions and can change rapidly in response to disturbance. The development of skillful predictive equations for peat Ksat and other hydraulic properties, akin to mineral soil pedotransfer functions, remains a subject of ongoing research. We report a meta-analysis of 2,507 northern peat samples, from which we developed linear models that predict peat Ksat from other variables, including depth, dry bulk density, von Post score (degree of humification), and categorical information such as surface microform type and peatland trophic type (e.g., bog and fen). Peat Ksat decreases strongly with increasing depth, dry bulk density, and humification; and increases along the trophic gradient from bog to fen peat. Dry bulk density and humification are particularly important predictors and increase model skill greatly; our best model, which includes these variables, has a cross-validated of 0.75 and little bias. A second model that includes humification but omits dry bulk density, intended for rapid field estimations of Ksat, also performs well (cross-validated = 0.64). Two additional models that omit several predictors perform less well (cross-validated ∼ 0.5), and exhibit greater bias, but allow Ksat to be estimated from less comprehensive data. Our models allow improved estimation of peat Ksat from simpler, cheaper measurements.

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Series: Water resources research
ISSN: 0043-1397
ISSN-E: 1944-7973
ISSN-L: 0043-1397
Volume: 58
Issue: 11
Article number: e2022WR033181
DOI: 10.1029/2022WR033181
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
218 Environmental engineering
Funding: We acknowledge funding from a variety of sources, which supported the collection of many of the data reported herein: The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences (awarded to J. M. Waddington); Countryside Council for Wales (now part of Natural Resources Wales; Cors Fochno Hydrological Research and Management Study awarded to A. J. Baird); the Environment Agency of England and Wales (Contract 12078, awarded to A. J. Baird); the European Union LIFE Program (Freshabit LIFE IP project LIFE14/IPE/FI/023, awarded to A.-K. Ronkanen, who led the University of Oulu's contribution to that project); the European Union Water Joint Programme Initiative (WATERPEAT project, awarded to B. Kløve); the Finnish Cultural Foundation (awarded to M. Menberu); Fonds de recherche du Québec (Groundwater Partnership Research Grant 2010-HO-137058 awarded to M. Larocque); Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (Groundwater Knowledge Acquisition Project grant awarded to M. Larocque); the Natural Environment Research Council of the United Kingdom (NE/S007458/1 awarded to R. E. Fewster; NE/J007609/1, NER/I/S/2001/00712, and NE/G00224X/1 awarded to J. Holden); the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (RDCPJ 51342-17, RGPIN 250117-2003, and RGPIN-2015-06744 awarded to M. Larocque; and multiple grants awarded to S. J. Ketcheson, M. Strack, and J.M. Waddington); and the Ouranos Consortium (Grant 5540007 awarded to M. Larocque).
Copyright information: © 2022. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.