Peatlands are poorly represented in global Earth system modeling frameworks. Here we add a peatland‐specific land surface hydrology module (PEAT‐CLSM) to the Catchment Land Surface Model (CLSM) of the NASA Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) framework. The amended TOPMODEL approach of the original CLSM that uses topography characteristics to model catchment processes is discarded, and a peatland‐specific model concept is realized in its place. To facilitate its utilization in operational GEOS efforts, PEAT‐CLSM uses the basic structure of CLSM and the same global input data. Parameters used in PEAT‐CLSM are based on literature data. A suite of CLSM and PEAT‐CLSM simulations for peatland areas between 40°N and 75°N is presented and evaluated against a newly compiled data set of groundwater table depth and eddy covariance observations of latent and sensible heat fluxes in natural and seminatural peatlands. CLSM's simulated groundwater tables are too deep and variable, whereas PEAT‐CLSM simulates a mean groundwater table depth of −0.20 m (snow‐free unfrozen period) with moderate temporal fluctuations (standard deviation of 0.10 m), in significantly better agreement with in situ observations. ... mehrRelative to an operational CLSM version that simply includes peat as a soil class, the temporal correlation coefficient is increased on average by 0.16 and reaches 0.64 for bogs and 0.66 for fens when driven with global atmospheric forcing data. In PEAT‐CLSM, runoff is increased on average by 38% and evapotranspiration is reduced by 19%. The evapotranspiration reduction constitutes a significant improvement relative to eddy covariance measurements.