TropPeat: Low-latitude peat-forming ecosystems: past, present, future

07.06 - 09.06.2017  
Honolulu, USA
Contact person:
David Beilman, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Workshop report: 
> Access

Date change!

The C-PEAT (Carbon in Peat on Earth through Time) working group will hold a workshop, titled "TropPeat: Low-latitude peat-forming ecosystems: past, present, future" in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, from 7-9 June 2017 (originally scheduled for March 2017).


The venues for this open workshop will be the East-West Center and the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel.

The number of participants will be limited to 25-30.


Carbon in peat is one of Earth’s single largest organic carbon pools. Today, best estimates suggest that low‐latitude carbon‐rich peatlands cover 387‐657 thousand km2 and hold more than 100 gigatonnes of sequestered carbon, and tropical peatlands have been the largest component of natural wetland CH4 emissions globally since the pre‐Industrial period. Progress has been made in the site‐level study of tropical peatlands, some regions have received well‐deserved attention, and recent synthesis efforts have started collating important data.

Yet, despite being carbon hotspots, peatlands globally, and tropical peatlands specifically, remain poorly studied and understood compared to other terrestrial ecosystems. As numerous knowledge gaps still persist at site, region, and global scales, it is timely to examine tropical peatlands and bring together experts and available data. Understanding where and how tropical peats have formed in response to various environmental drivers would not only help us better know the mechanisms that sequester peat carbon in low‐latitude settings today, but also to better know their fate in the face of multiple global change pressures in tropical regions.

This 2.5‐day workshop will bring together international scientists with expertise and research interests in lowlatitude peat carbon through time, spanning the late Quaternary to today. The overall goals of the workshop are to facilitate research coordination and to synthesize and disseminate knowledge and relevant peat carbon data for the Tropics. The workshop is conducted under the C‐PEAT working group and is financially supported by PAGES and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

In 2015, a launch workshop for the C-PEAT WG was conducted at Columbia University, New York, USA, which was the first workshop following the inception of the WG in June 2014. This workshop would be among the next activities of the WG. The impetus for this TropPeat workshop is a direct result of the success of the C-PEAT WG launch, and the enthusiasm of the participants.

Overarching questions

1) Why does peat, which is located mainly in high‐latitude regions, exist in the tropics? What are the specific controls on low‐latitude peat carbon cycling, and how are these different than peat carbon sequestration globally?
2) What is the distribution of low‐latitude peataccumulating ecosystems? Where might tropical peatland carbon stock or flux ‘surprises’ be waiting to be discovered? How well do we know the true size of the low‐latitude peat C pool?
3) Of the major uncertainties and knowledge gaps that undermine answers to these questions, which are critical and which are ‘low hanging fruit’ that should or can be addressed over the next few years? What are priority research areas for the next several years?

Tentative workshop topics

These general workshop topics will help guide discussions and breakout group activities:

1) Key processes that drive tropical peatland carbon cycling – what have they been in the past, and what are they today? Where will tropical peat disappear? Where will it form?
2) Challenges in mapping the distribution of tropical peat‐forming ecosystems, carbon pools, and methane sources – what are the crucial types of tropical peatlands and where are they?
3) Collation and synthesis of data regarding peat carbon (and associated properties) and history of C cycling in tropical peatlands, including radiocarbon dates.
4) Process and tropical peat carbon modeling.
5) Applications in conservation and management.

Primary workshop outcomes

1) the compilation and synthesis of available tropical peat data and a manuscript for publication authored by community members and data contributors that focuses on core‐based peat carbon characteristics, ages, and distributions,
2) coordination of a peer‐reviewed Special Issue that would facilitate the publication of site and regional scale data and/or modeling papers and other topics of relevance, and
3) build a network of TropPEAT researchers, including a updateable database of investigators and projects to facilitate collaboration and research coordination.


There are no registration fees. Researchers with an interest and ability to contribute to any of the workshop topics and goals are invited to attend. This group will consist of international experts and early-career researchers as well as local participants from Hawaii. A focus will be on early-career scientists (new faculty, postdocs, PhD students).

To apply, fill out the registration form here: by 5 May.

The organizing committee will decide on final attendees based on the potential contributions to the objectives and a balance of relevant experience.

Financial support

Some funding is currently available, and will be prioritized to support the travel of early-career scientists and those from developing countries. When applying, please state if you require support and the reasons why.

Organizing Committee

Dr. David W. Beilman (University of Hawaii, USA)
Dr. Ian Lawson (University of St. Andrews, UK)
Dr. Zicheng Yu (Lehigh University, USA)

Further information

Contact David Beilman, Department of Geography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.