Term Definition
Abstraction The process of removing water, often from natural sources such as rivers, lakes, or groundwater, for various purposes such as irrigation, drinking, industrial use, or hydropower.
Acrotelm The upper layer of peat, influenced by surface conditions and vegetation. It is more decomposed than the deeper catotelm.
Arable Land that is suitable for or used in farming, particularly for growing crops such as grains, vegetables, or fruits.
Biodiversity The variety and variability of life on Earth, encompassing genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity within and among different ecosystems and habitats.
Bog A type of peatland characterised by acidic, nutrient-poor conditions. Bogs often have a surface layer of Sphagnum moss and support unique plant communities.
Bryophytes A group of non-vascular plants including mosses and liverworts. Bryophytes are important in peatland ecosystems.
Carbon Carbon is essential to life on Earth and is the basis of organic chemistry, forming the backbone of molecules in living organisms.
Carbon Budget The balance between carbon sources and sinks in an ecosystem or system, representing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted and absorbed, typically expressed over a specific period.
Carbon Dioxide Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, meaning it traps heat in the Earth's atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and global warming.
Carbon Sequestration The process by which peatlands capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, helping mitigate climate change. carbon dioxide also plays essential roles in photosynthesis, whereby plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it into carbohydrates and oxygen through sunlight.
Carbon Sink A natural or artificial process that removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Carbon sinks absorb more greenhouse gases than they release.
Carbon Source Any process that releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than they absorb.
Catotelm The deeper, less decomposed layer of peat, influenced by anaerobic conditions and slow decomposition.
Decomposition The process by which organic matter, such as plants and other organic materials, is broken down into simpler substances, often facilitated by microorganisms and environmental factors.
Deep Peat Peat deposits located at greater depths within the soil profile, often characterised by their substantial accumulation of organic matter and their role in carbon storage and sequestration.
Diatoms Microscopic algae found in peatlands. Diatoms contribute to peat formation and provide valuable paleoenvironmental information.
Drained agricultural lowland peat Lowland peat areas that have been drained to enable agricultural activities, leading to exposure of organic matter to air, which causes decomposition and CO2 emissions.
Ecosystem A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment, encompassing living organisms, their habitats, and the complex interactions between them.
Eddy Covariance

Eddy Covariance (EC) is the micrometeorological technique for measuring the two-way vertical exchange (flux) of heat, mass and momentum between the Earth surface and the atmosphere above. EC systems are widely used to monitor flux densities of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) carbon dioxide (CO2) methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). They consist of a gas analyser and ultrasonic anemometer that record at high frequency (20 Hz), and are complemented by a suite of micrometeorological instruments, such as radiometers, temperature and humidity probes, and soil physics sensors to measure heat and moisture dynamics in the upper soil profile.

As turbulent eddies travel across the landscape, the concentration of gases within them changes due to interactions with the surface. Plant photosynthesis leads to a reduction in the amount of CO2 transported by eddies whereas plant and soil respiration increases the amount of CO2. Similarly, the evaporation of water from the surface increases humidity, and the soil surface releases and removes heat from the air above.

The EC method relies on several underlying assumptions, the key of which are that the measurements are made of fully developed turbulent (non-stationary) conditions, over a large homogenous surface of interest, or “flux footprint”. As such, EC is ideally suited for measuring at field scale. Several EC systems are deployed at our on-going peatlands projects and other peatland areas in the UK, which in turn form part of the wider UK Land Flux Network.

Eutrophication The process of nutrient enrichment in peatlands, often caused by human activities. Excessive nutrients can alter plant communities.
Farm Gate The point of sale or transfer where agricultural products leave the farm and enter the market or distribution system, typically referring to the boundary between farm production and external markets.
Fen A type of peatland, typically less acidic than bogs. Fens receive mineral-rich groundwater and support a diverse range of plant species.
Flux tower systems Advanced measurement systems used to quantify greenhouse gas emissions from various land sites, including peatlands.
Food Security The state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food
GHG emissions Greenhouse gas emissions, which include gases like carbon dioxide that contribute to global warming and climate change. (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs, PFCs, SF6, NF3)
Horticulture The science and art of cultivating plants, particularly fruits, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants, often in controlled environments such as gardens, greenhouses, or nurseries.
Hydrology The study of water movement and distribution in peatlands, including factors such as water table depth, flow patterns, and drainage.
Irrigation The artificial application of water to land or soil for the purpose of assisting in the growth of crops or plants, often to supplement natural rainfall or to sustain agriculture in dry regions.
Life Cycle Assessment A comprehensive evaluation of the environmental impact of a product, process, or activity throughout its entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to production, use, and disposal.
Lowland peatlands Areas of peat in the low-lying areas that have been drained, often for agricultural purposes, leading to various environmental impacts.
Lysimeters Instruments used to measure the movement and drainage of water through soil, typically consisting of containers or chambers installed underground to collect and analyze percolating water.
Methane Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas with a much higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Flooded peatlands can cause large amounts of methan to be released into the environment.
Microtopography Small-scale variations in surface elevation within a peatland, affecting water movement and vegetation distribution.
Minerotrophic Peatlands that receive nutrients from mineral-rich groundwater or surface water.
Mire A general term for peatlands, encompassing bogs, fens, and other wetland types.
Nitrogen Nitrogen (N) is essential for life, found in various forms such as nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and nitrogen gas, playing crucial roles in plant growth, metabolism, and ecosystems.
Nitrous Oxide A greenhouse gas (N2O) produced through natural and anthropogenic processes, including agricultural activities such as fertiliser application, soil cultivation, and livestock management.
Ombrotrophic Referring to peatlands that receive water and nutrients primarily from precipitation (rainwater).

Etymology: From Latin palus (“swamp”) + cultūra (“cultivation, agriculture”).

Agricultural production on wet peat. Paludiculture generally reduces greenhouse gas emissions whilst making productive use of the land.

Peat Peat is formed through the partial decomposition of plants and animals in the wet acidic conditions of bogs and fens. Peat stores a significant amount of carbon and act as a natural carbon sink.
Peat Depth The thickness of the peat layer in a peatland. Peat depth varies depending on factors like vegetation, water table, and historical conditions.
Peatland subsidence The gradual sinking of land that occurs when peatlands are drained, causing the previously waterlogged organic matter to compact and decompose.
Porewater Water within the peat matrix, containing dissolved nutrients and gases. Porewater movement affects peatland processes.
Re-wet The process of restoring or increasing the water levels within peatlands or wetlands, typically by reversing drainage or water management practices, aimed at conservation or restoration.
Rhizosphere The soil region around plant roots, where microbial activity influences nutrient cycling and organic matter decomposition.
Sedge A type of grass-like plant commonly found in peatlands. Sedges are adapted to wet conditions.
Shallow Peat Peat deposits located closer to the soil surface, typically found in shallower layers and exhibiting lower organic matter accumulation compared to deep peat deposits.
Skyline system

How does the Skyline system work?

As with an EC system, robotic Skyline systems are used to measure the two-way GHG exchange between atmosphere and ecosystem, but for a much smaller footprint (typically less than 1 m2). This method is referred to as an automated chamber method, and allows scientists to perform manipulation studies, whereby conditions or ‘treatments’ (e.g. fertiliser, water supply, and shading) can be controlled and compared. In the LowlandPeat2 project, Skyline was deployed across a transect where drainage levels were manipulated to three different depths. The Skyline chamber travels across the transect suspended on ropes and is lowered onto each plot in turn from which it pumps air to an analyser enabling GHG fluxes to be calculated in near real time GHGs.

Tillage The preparation of soil for planting or cultivation, typically involving plowing, harrowing, or other mechanical operations to loosen, aerate, or mix the soil, and to control weeds or pests.
Vertical Farming A method of growing crops in vertically stacked layers or structures, often indoors or in controlled environments, using artificial lighting, hydroponics, or aeroponics to maximize space and yield.
Wasted peat Peat that has been depleted or lost due to factors such as drainage, excavation, or degradation, rendering it unusable or ineffective for its original purpose.