The role of boreal wetlands in driving variations in atmospheric methane (CH4) concentrations across the last deglaciation (20–10 ka) and the Holocene is debated. Most studies infer the sources of atmospheric methane via ice-core records of methane concentration and its light stable isotopic composition. However, direct evidence for variations in the methane cycle from the wetlands themselves is relatively limited. Here, we used a suite of biomarker proxies to reconstruct the methane cycle in the Chinese Hani peat across the past 16 k.y. We found two periods of enhanced methanogenesis, at ca. 15–11 ka and ca. 10–6 ka, whereas weak methanogenesis characterized the late Holocene. These periods of enhanced methanogenesis relate to periods of high/increasing temperatures, supporting a temperature control on the wetland methane cycle. We found no biomarker evidence for intense methanotrophy throughout the past 16 k.y., and, contrary to previous studies, we found no clear control of hydrology on the peatland methane cycle. Although the onset of methanogenesis at Hani at ca. 15 ka coincided with a negative shift in methane δ13C in the ice cores, there is no consistent correlation between changes in the reconstructed methane cycle of the boreal Hani peat and atmospheric CH4 concentrations.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.