Navigation Links
Climate change effect on release of CO2 from peat far greater than assumed
Date:11/20/2011

Climate change effect on release of CO2 from peat far greater than assumed Drought causes peat to release far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than has previously been realised.

Much of the world's peatlands lie in regions predicted to experience increased frequency and severity of drought as a result of climate change- leading to the peat drying out and releasing vast stores of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. It's the very wetness of the peat that has kept the air out, locking in centuries of carbon dioxide that would normally be released from the decomposing plant materials in the peat. Now scientists at Bangor University have discovered that the effect of periods of severe drought lasts far beyond the initial drought itself.

Writing in Nature Geosciences (doi 10.1038 NGEO1323), Dr Nathalie Fenner and Professor Chris Freeman of Bangor University explain how the drought causes an increase in the rate of release of CO2 for possibly as long as a decade. It was originally assumed that most of the CO2 was released from the dry peat. Now scientists realise that the release of CO2 continues, and may even increase, when the peat is re-wetted with the arrival of rain. The carbon is lost to the atmosphere as CO2 and methane and to the waters that drain peatlands as dissolved organic carbon (DOC).

"As our global climate and rainfall patterns change, our peatlands may not have sufficient opportunity to recover between these drought-induced episodes of CO2 loss," explains the paper's lead author, Dr Nathalie Fenner. "What we previously perceived as a 'spike' in the rate of carbon loss during drying out, now appears far more prolonged- with a potential peak after the initial drought period is over."

As well as contributing further to climate change, as CO2 is one of the 'greenhouse gasses', the loss of carbon from the peat has other consequences. Dissolved organic carbon in the water as a result of this process, could adversely affect the quality of drinking water. Much of our drinking water comes from these upland sources. The increase of dissolved organic carbon in the water is likely to bring extra problems and expense to the water supply industry because it interferes with the treatment process.

Loss of carbon could ultimately lead to severe degradation of the peatland itself. Occurring on upland regions of the northern hemisphere, the loss of peatland could contribute to an increased frequency of lowland flooding occurrences as the peat acts as a natural 'sponge' for heavy rainfall. There would also be a consequent loss of habitat and species loss as well as a change in the look and feel of our uplands.

"The previous focus of research in this area has been on the drought period, and our own work identified how the release of CO2 occurs," explains Prof Chris Freeman, who leads the Wolfson Peatland Carbon Capture Laboratory at Bangor University. "We were initially surprised at finding that the effects are so prolonged- we think what's happening is microbial and that this activity has been triggered by the introduction of oxygen into previously waterlogged conditions. Once the water returns, conditions have changed and the microbes are further able to thrive until conditions eventually return to normal."

The paper's authors suggest that geo-engineering solutions may have to be considered to preserve the water table and reduce the effects of drought on upland peat.


'/>"/>
Contact: Elinor Elis-Williams
aos033@bangor.ac.uk
44-124-838-3298
Bangor University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Long-term study shows effect of climate change on animal diversity
2. White Mountain Research Station to host climate change conference
3. Researchers find animal with ability to survive climate change
4. Severe climate change costs forecast for Pennsylvania, N.C., Tennessee, N.D.
5. Experts discuss climate change during UH lecture series
6. Dont blame cities for climate change, see them as solutions
7. Green coffee-growing practices buffer climate-change impacts
8. Brookhaven scientists take off for southeastern Pacific climate study
9. Himalaya -- Changing Landscapes photo exhibition draws attention to the impacts of climate change
10. British scientists go cloud-hopping in the Pacific to improve climate predictions
11. Northwest climate change is target of $3.2M in grants to University of Oregon
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... YORK , April 5, 2017 Today ... is announcing that the server component of the HYPR ... known for providing the end-to-end security architecture that empowers ... HYPR has already secured over 15 million ... makers including manufacturers of connected home product suites and ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... 2017 The research team of The Hong ... fingerprint identification by adopting ground breaking 3D fingerprint minutiae recovery and ... speed and accuracy for use in identification, crime investigation, immigration control, ... ... A research team led ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... The Controller General of Immigration from Maldives Mr. Mohamed Anwar ... the prestigious international IAIR Award for the most innovative high security ePassport ... ... Maldives Immigration Controller General, Mr. ... on the right) have received the IAIR award for the "Most innovative ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/20/2017)... ... ... Biologist Dawn Maslar MS has found a biomarker that she claims verifies ... The Neuroscience of Meeting, Dating, Losing Your Mind, and Finding True Love, Maslar found ... step, in my estimation, was to scientifically track the evidence of commitment in men,” ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... ... June 20, 2017 , ... National executive ... leader with extensive assay development and biomarker expertise, as VP of Scientific Affairs ... CRO specializing in bio-analytical assay development and sample testing services. The organization acts ...
(Date:6/19/2017)... ... June 19, 2017 , ... As Vice President, Product ... including training, implementation, support, and client process and SOP development. , Mr. Guinter ... held leadership roles for service providers and top-tier pharmaceuticals, and as an independent ...
(Date:6/19/2017)... ... , ... A colony of healthy honey bees is like a superorganism--individual bees ... nectar containing nutrients necessary for growth and survival. Better nutrition gives the colony a ... to a decline in honey bee health. Sick and weakened bees diminish the colony's ...
Breaking Biology Technology: