HIMMELI v1.0: HelsinkI Model of MEthane buiLd-up and emIssion for peatlands
Abstract. Wetlands are one of the most significant natural sources of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere. They emit CH4 because decomposition of soil organic matter in waterlogged anoxic conditions produces CH4, in addition to carbon dioxide (CO2). Production of CH4 and how much of it escapes to the atmosphere depend on a multitude of environmental drivers. Models simulating the processes leading to CH4 emissions are thus needed for upscaling observations to estimate present CH4 emissions and for producing scenarios of future atmospheric CH4 concentrations. Aiming at a CH4 model that can be added to models describing peatland carbon cycling, we composed a model called HIMMELI that describes CH4 build-up in and emissions from peatland soils. It is not a full peatland carbon cycle model but it requires the rate of anoxic soil respiration as input. Driven by soil temperature, leaf area index (LAI) of aerenchymatous peatland vegetation, and water table depth (WTD), it simulates the concentrations and transport of CH4, CO2, and oxygen (O2) in a layered one-dimensional peat column. Here, we present the HIMMELI model structure and results of tests on the model sensitivity to the input data and to the description of the peat column (peat depth and layer thickness), and demonstrate that HIMMELI outputs realistic fluxes by comparing modeled and measured fluxes at two peatland sites. As HIMMELI describes only the CH4-related processes, not the full carbon cycle, our analysis revealed mechanisms and dependencies that may remain hidden when testing CH4 models connected to complete peatland carbon models, which is usually the case. Our results indicated that (1) the model is flexible and robust and thus suitable for different environments; (2) the simulated CH4 emissions largely depend on the prescribed rate of anoxic respiration; (3) the sensitivity of the total CH4 emission to other input variables is mainly mediated via the concentrations of dissolved gases, in particular, the O2 concentrations that affect the CH4 production and oxidation rates; (4) with given input respiration, the peat column description does not significantly affect the simulated CH4 emissions in this model version.