Low methane emissions from a boreal wetland constructed on oil sand mine tailings

Clark, M. Graham; Humphreys, Elyn R.; Carey, Sean K.

A 58 ha mixed upland and lowland boreal plains watershed called the Sandhill Fen Watershed was constructed between 2008 and 2012. In the years following wetting in 2013, methane emissions were measured using manual chambers. The presence of vegetation with aerenchymous tissues and saturated soils were important factors influencing the spatial variability of methane emissions across the constructed watershed. Nevertheless, median methane emissions were equal to or less than 0.51 mg inline-formulaCH4 minline-formula−2 hinline-formula−1 even from the saturated organic soils in the lowlands. Although overall methane emissions remained low, observations of methane ebullition increased over the 3 study years. Ebullition events occurred in 10 % of measurements in 2013, increasing to 21 % and 27 % of measurements in 2014 and 2015, respectively, at the plots with saturated soils. Increasing metal ion availability and decreasing sulfur availability was measured using buried ion exchange resins at both seasonal and annual timescales potentially as a result of microbial reduction of these ions. Using principle component analysis, methane fluxes had a significant positive correlation to the leading principle component which was associated with increasing ammonium, iron, and manganese and decreasing sulfur availability (inline-formular=0.31, inline-formulap<0.001). These results suggest that an abundance of alternative inorganic electron acceptors may be limiting methanogenesis at this time.

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Clark, M. Graham / Humphreys, Elyn R. / Carey, Sean K.: Low methane emissions from a boreal wetland constructed on oil sand mine tailings. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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