New research conducted by the Univerity of Exeter concludes that global warming will force peatlands to store more carbon as the planet is heating up. However, peat bogs are going to get saturated faster if the temperatures continue to increase.
This phenomenon is known as “negative feedback,” as the climate change triggers some effects that lead to its own slowdown. However, an international team of 70 researchers, headed by the University of Exeter, estimates that peatlands capacity of absorbing enough carbon would diminish in about 100 years.
Peatlands represent a crucial “carbon sink,” and they are now storing more carbon than the whole world’s vegetation. According to the new study, they will store even more in the future but are doomed to decline in this regard if the global warming becomes too massive.
As the most of the peatlands are in Canada and Siberia, and other areas with cold climate, as well, warming temperatures triggered by the climate change in those regions lead peatlands to absorb more plant matter.
Scientists consider that peatlands restoration is of great importance in the perspective of increasing global warming
“Plants living in cold-climate peatlands have it tough for most of the year, but rising global temperatures will give them a longer growing season. Decomposition in peatlands will speed up as the climate warms, meaning more carbon and methane released, but the overall effect in these high-latitude regions will be increased storage of carbon,” said Dr. Angela Gallego-Sala from the University of Exeter.
But peatlands are also found in tropical areas, and these won’t follow the same pattern.
“However, as warming continues, tropical peatlands will store less carbon because decomposition will speed up, but higher temperatures in these already warm regions will not boost plant growth,” the researcher added.
To help the peatlands, especially those from the tropics, scientists think that peat bogs should be restored.
“Peatlands restoration efforts, such as rewetting drained and degraded peatlands, can restore the waterlogged conditions needed to prevent the release of peat carbon. These efforts need to be intensified if we are to avoid accelerating peatland CO2 emissions into the future,” said Professor Sue Page from the University of Leicester.