Amazonian rainforests and peatlands are the largest terrestrial tropical carbon (C) pool undergoing rapid change. Tropical peatlands have relatively well-preserved stratigraphies not found in mineral soils. The stratigraphy of these systems can be used to understand past pyrogenic carbon (PyC, a recalcitrant form of C formed by burning)  inputs and their sources, as the indicator of past fires.

There is large uncertainty about the quantity of soil C stored as PyC and the contribution of local versus transported PyC. Research has indicated that Amazonian soil PyC may be 10 times larger than previously estimated. There is essentially no information about how or when PyC additions to mineral or peatland soils have occurred. Understanding this process and the historical changes to this potential fertility source is essential to understanding drivers of the Amazon carbon sink.

This study aims to make the estimation of the stocks of total soil carbon stored as PyC for the Amazon Basin taking into account PyC in peatlands, with the overall aim of improving the understanding of sources and timing of past fires and uncover the linkage between climate change, human activities, vegetation cover and fire over hundreds to thousands of years in Amazonia peatlands.

Advisors: Professor Patrick Moss, Dr Angela Gallego-Sala, Professor Hamish McGowan, Dr Ted Feldpausch

Funding: QUEX PhD Scholarship

Project members

Yuwan WANG

PhD Candidate