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Peat records of atmospheric environmental changes in China: A brief review and recommendations for future research perspectives



Ombrotrophic peat bogs are widely characterized by precipitation-dependent wetlands where nutrient supply is derived from atmospheric deposition (including snowfall and air dust). These bogs serve as active information storage systems, continuously recording atmospheric environmental changes. In China, peat record show dating back to the commencement of industrialization era and show an increase in environmental pollutants, with an unprecedented increase over the last 50 years. In NE China, long-distance high-altitude winds carry dust from Mongolia and Western China, whereas in SW China, dust mainly comes from the desert, Loess Plateau, and adjacent Qinghai Tibet Plateau, with contribution rates of 45%, 22%, and 33%, respectively. Increased anthropogenic activities (smelting and extensive coal burning) led to increased PTEs emissions, which peaked during the Industrial Revolution. After the foundation of New China in 1949, combustion-generated pollutant emissions increased sharply and accelerated during the 1980s. However, some peat cores show decline in the last two decades, reflecting strict control measures that led to reductions in biomass burning and coal consumption. This review briefly summarizes the dating of peatlands and their depositional archives of several environmental pollutants and their sources in China. It also highlights some areas of improvement and recommends further research perspectives on peat archives to improve our understanding of atmospheric environment changes.