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Peat Carbon Accumulation on Earth: An Integrated and Global Perspective — C-PEAT Launch and Integration Workshop

New York, NY, United States
Workshop report
Contact person
Zicheng Yu
E-Mail address
Working groups
Meeting Category

WGLogoCPEATPeats are the most carbon-rich soils and surface deposits produced by the Earth’s biosphere. Today, peats contain more than 600 Pg C that has accumulated mostly since the last ice age. Yet the size and distribution of the peat carbon pool has changed over time throughout the Earth’s history, especially over long-time scales in response to climate change. Understanding where and how peats formed in response to various climate conditions in the past would not only help us reconstruct peat carbon histories but also project their future trajectories.

This proposed workshop will, for the first time, bring together scientists interested in peats and peat carbon across the world from polar to tropical regions and through time from pre-Quaternary to the Holocene and recent centuries.  The overall goal of the workshop is to facilitate research coordination and the synthesis of knowledge and data on peat accumulation processes and histories on Earth.

The workshop is supported by PAGES (Carbon in Peat on EArth through Time (C-PEAT) Working Group) and INQUA (Holocene Global Peatland Carbon Dynamics project).

Overarching questions

• What are the critical controls or limiting factors for peat accumulation in different climates (polar, tropical and temperate)? Or why is there peat?

• What is the possible range of peat C stocks on Earth through Earth’s history? Over the glacial-interglacial cycles? Between hothouse and icehouse climate states? And beyond?

• What is the future trajectory of peat C stocks? Will there be more or less peat C stocks, as determined by future climate and anthropogenic impact? And where will they be?

Tentative discussion topics/groups

1. Northern peatlands and permafrost peat C stocks
2. Tropical and temperate peatlands
3. Peat frontiers in polar regions (e.g., Arctic, Antarctic)
4. Pre-Holocene peats and “lost” peats
5. Process and global modeling

Workshop goals and outcomes

• Draft a white paper—or even a grand synthesis manuscript—on peat accumulation on Earth by synthesizing ideas and available data

• Identify topical synthesis products and discuss future coordination on these topics such as the “lost” peats C stocks (data compilation and modeling); permafrost peat C stocks; synthesis of tropical peatlands; pre-Holocene peats; etc.


Location: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory,
Columbia University,
Palisades, New York


We invite researchers—who will contribute to any topics and objectives listed above—to apply to attend the workshop. We especially welcome participation of early career scientists (new faculty, postdoc, PhD students). Limited funding is currently available to support early career scientists. The number of participants will be limited to about 40 people. The organizing committee will make decision on the acceptance to the workshop on the basis of potential contributions to, and balance of relevant expertise on, the above-listed topics.

Please submit your workshop registration/application before 15 July 2015 using the Google Form from the link below. We will inform you the acceptance decision before 15 August.

Organizing Committee

Zicheng Yu (Lehigh University)
Dan Charman (University of Exeter)
Dave Beilman (University of Hawaii)
Jon Nichols (Columbia University)

Post-meeting material

> Workshop program and abstracts (pdf)

PAGES Magazine workshop report: > Understanding peat carbon sequestration on Earth (vol.24, no.1)