Bioclimatic envelope model of climate change impacts on blanket peatland distribution in Great Britain
Gallego-Sala, A. V., Clark, J. M., House, J. I., Orr, H. G., Prentice, I. C., Smith, P., Farewell, T. and Chapman, S. J. (2010) Bioclimatic envelope model of climate change impacts on blanket peatland distribution in Great Britain. Climate Research, 45. pp. 151-162. ISSN 0936-577X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.3354/cr00911
Blanket peatlands are rain-fed mires that cover the landscape almost regardless of topography. The geographical extent of this type of peatland is highly sensitive to climate. We applied a global process-based bioclimatic envelope model, PeatStash, to predict the distribution of British blanket peatlands. The model captures the present areal extent (Kappa = 0.77) and is highly sensitive to both temperature and precipitation changes. When the model is run using the UKCIP02 climate projections for the time periods 2011–2040, 2041–2070 and 2071–2100, the geographical distribution of blanket peatlands gradually retreats towards the north and the west. In the UKCIP02 high emissions scenario for 2071–2100, the blanket peatland bioclimatic space is ~84% smaller than contemporary conditions (1961–1990); only parts of the west of Scotland remain inside this space. Increasing summer temperature is the main driver of the projected changes in areal extent. Simulations using 7 climate model outputs resulted in generally similar patterns of declining aereal extent of the bioclimatic space, although differing in degree. The results presented in this study should be viewed as a first step towards understanding the trends likely to affect the blanket peatland distribution in Great Britain. The eventual fate of existing blanket peatlands left outside their bioclimatic space remains uncertain.