The DigiBog model of peatland development 1: rationale, conceptual model, and hydrological basis
Baird, A.J., Morris, P. and Belyea, L.R. (2012) The DigiBog model of peatland development 1: rationale, conceptual model, and hydrological basis. Ecohydrology, 5 (3). pp. 242-255. ISSN 1936-0592
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/eco.230
Using a literature review, we argue that new models of peatland development are needed. Many existing models do not account for potentially important ecohydrological feedbacks, and/or ignore spatial structure and heterogeneity. Existing models, including those that simulate a near total loss of the northern peatland carbon store under a warming climate, may produce misleading results because they rely upon oversimplified representations of ecological and hydrological processes. In this, the first of a pair of papers, we present the conceptual framework for a model of peatland development, DigiBog, which considers peatlands as complex adaptive systems. DigiBog accounts for the interactions between the processes which govern litter production and peat decay, peat soil hydraulic properties, and peatland water-table behaviour, in a novel and genuinely ecohydrological manner. DigiBog consists of a number of interacting submodels, each representing a different aspect of peatland ecohydrology. Here we present in detail the mathematical and computational basis, as well as the implementation and testing, of the hydrological submodel. Remaining submodels are described and analysed in the accompanying paper. Tests of the hydrological submodel against analytical solutions for simple aquifers were highly successful: the greatest deviation between DigiBog and the analytical solutions was 2·83%. We also applied the hydrological submodel to irregularly shaped aquifers with heterogeneous hydraulic properties—situations for which no analytical solutions exist—and found the model's outputs to be plausible.