Navigation Links
Global warming predicted to hasten carbon release from peat bogs
Date:11/6/2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 6, 2008 -- Billions of tons of carbon sequestered in the world's peat bogs could be released into the atmosphere in the coming decades as a result of global warming, according to a new analysis of the interplay between peat bogs, water tables, and climate change.

Such an atmospheric release of even a small percentage of the carbon locked away in the world's peat bogs would dwarf emissions of manmade carbon, scientists at Harvard University, Worcester State College, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology write in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

"Our modeling suggests that higher temperatures could cause water tables to drop substantially, causing more peat to dry and decompose," says Paul R. Moorcroft, professor of organismic and evolutionary biology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "Over several centuries, some 40 percent of carbon could be lost from shallow peat bogs, while the losses could total as much as 86 percent in deep bogs."

Typically found at northerly latitudes, peat bogs are swampy areas whose cold, wet environment preserves organic matter, preventing it from decaying. This new work shows how peat bogs' stability could be upset by the warming of the earth, which has disproportionately affected the higher latitudes where the bogs are generally found.

Each square meter of a peat bog contains anywhere from a few to many hundreds of kilograms of undecomposed organic matter, for a total of 200 to 450 billion metric tons of carbon sequestered in peat bogs worldwide. This figure is equivalent to up to 65 years' worth of the world's current carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning.

"Peat bogs contain vast stores of carbon," Moorcroft says. "They will likely respond to the expected warming in this century by losing large amounts of carbon during dry periods."

Moorcroft and his colleagues simulated the responses of two peat bogs in northern Manitoba to temperature increases of 4 degrees Celsius, or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, a gain that is at the conservative end of estimates for the next 100 years. Their modeling looked specifically at water table dynamics, since peat bogs' stability is grounded in their cold, waterlogged nature.

"Previous modeling has assumed that decomposition in peat bogs is like that in a conventional soil," Moorcroft says. "Ours is the first simulation to take a realistic look at the interaction between the dynamics of the water table, peat temperatures, and peat accumulation."

Moorcroft plans to continue the research by expanding his group's analysis of peat bogs and water tables to global scales.


'/>"/>

Contact: Steve Bradt
steve_bradt@harvard.edu
617-496-8070
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Book explores global implications of wildland fire smoke
2. Global methane levels on the rise again
3. Stanford researchers: Global warming is killing frogs and salamanders in Yellowstone Park
4. Climate change expert to discuss grim global warming predictions
5. Study helps clarify role of soil microbes in global warming
6. Earlier global warming produced a whole new form of life
7. Global Viral Forecasting Initiative receives $11M to implement pandemic early warning system
8. Global warming threatens Australias iconic kangaroos
9. Tropical rainforest and mountain species may be threatened by global warming
10. 7 Texas mammals listed as threatened on Global Mammal Assessment
11. Mandate for biofuels production requires science-based policy and global perspective
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/27/2017)... N.Y. , March 27, 2017  Catholic ... Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics for ... EMR Adoption Model sm . In addition, CHS ... of U.S. hospitals using an electronic medical record ... for its high level of EMR usage in ...
(Date:3/22/2017)...   Neurotechnology , a provider of high-precision ... the release of the SentiVeillance 6.0 ... recognition using up to 10 surveillance, security and ... new version uses deep neural-network-based facial detection and ... a Graphing Processing Unit (GPU) for enhanced speed. ...
(Date:3/16/2017)... Germany , March 16, 2017 CeBIT 2017 - Against identity ... Continue Reading ... Used combined in one project, multi-biometric solutions provide ... Used ... Systems) ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/28/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... March 28, ... ... announced its partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science ... Science. Through this partnership, ReadCube will enhance its high-impact scholarly collection across ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... , ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation ... over two years to develop a suite of BioGel™ biopolymer materials for hygiene ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... March 28, 2017  The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) ... health policy research organization as its newest member. ... Affairs ( North America ), will serve ... "We,re pleased to have Ipsen and Dr. ... Dan Leonard . "We welcome their insights in helping ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... March 28, 2017 , ... ... effectiveness over time. A recent study published in STEM CELLS suggests that human ... zone (SVZ) stem cells to produce more neural cells. , Strategies involving ...
Breaking Biology Technology: