Energy fluxes and evaporation mechanisms in an Atlantic blanket bog in southwestern Ireland

Matteo Sottocornola, Gerard Kiely

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Water and energy fluxes control the development of northern peatlands and influence their carbon budget. Blanket bogs are peatlands that occur in temperate maritime regions where precipitation is much greater than evapotranspiration (ET). In this paper, five years (October 2002-September 2007) of ET and energy fluxes derived from eddy-covariance measurements were analyzed in the context of the predicted climate change for Ireland. Monthly ET at the Glencar Atlantic blanket bog varied little, ranging between a minimum of 12 mm month-1 and a maximum of 56 mm month-1 over the five years, resulting in an annual ET average of 394 mm, with typical highest daily values of 2.5-3.0 mm. Compared to other peatland types, Glencar had lower summer ET and a lower ET/potential ET ratio, despite having higher precipitation and water table. The ET was limited not only by the low vapor pressure deficit and cool summer temperatures but also by the low cover of vascular plants and mosses (essential for transpiration). The energy budget was similar to other peatland types in terms of net radiation and sensible heat fluxes, but had lower latent and higher ground heat fluxes. A comparison among the five years suggests that the predicted climate change (greater winter precipitation, lower summer precipitation, and higher all year round temperatures) will probably increase winter ET, while the summer energy flux patterns will not be profoundly affected. However, if the frequency of summer rain events should diminish, the moss component of these ecosystems may become water stressed, ultimately leading to lower evapotranspiration.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberW11524
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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