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

s, 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.


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

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