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Peatlands can withstand global warming

 
, medical expert
Last reviewed: 04.09.2021
 
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10 August 2021, 09:00

In conditions of high humidity and temperature, peatlands absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, which can slow the onset of global warming.

Scientists are largely responsible for the mechanism of global warming with the so-called greenhouse effect. Solar short-wave radiation easily penetrates the atmospheric layer of our planet. The earth heats up and reflects already long-wave rays, for which the atmosphere is not so transparent: it contains greenhouse gases with CO 2 in the composition. This leads to the concentration of energy at the earth's surface, which entails additional heating of the earth.

The problem could be solved by lowering the level of carbon dioxide: for example, plants that use CO 2 for photosynthesis can do this. By the way, there are large quantities of bound carbon dioxide - we are talking about peat bogs, which occupy no more than 3% of the earth's surface and at the same time accumulate about 500 gigatons of carbon. This number exceeds the concentration of all forests on the planet.

Scientists from Russia and Great Britain examined a number of peat bogs located in western Siberia. With the help of hand tools, experts removed the columns of peat deposits, determined the date of radiocarbon complexes, and described plant particles and unicellular microorganisms, which are characterized by a quick reaction to any shifts in the environment.

Based on the results, the age of the most deeply located layers was determined. It was over nine thousand years old. At that time, the Siberian region was distinguished by a mild climate and a large amount of precipitation. In the peat deposits, residual traces of sphagnum moss and compact mini-shrubs were found, the growth of which does not require the presence of many nutrients.

Almost six thousand years later, the climate has warmed, precipitation has decreased. In the peat bogs, an interlayer with a predominant cotton grass and xerophilic forms of shell amoebae - the simplest that can survive a long absence of moisture - has appeared. The dry period gave way to a wet one, and then drought came again.

As the authors of the study explain, the Atlantic period became the most informative. According to scientists, in about three decades in the west of Siberia, global warming will lead to an increase in temperature by about 0.9-1.5 ° C, and the humidity level will increase by 12-39%. Similar phenomena already occurred about eight thousand years ago, and it was at this time that a strong absorption of atmospheric carbon by peatlands was noted.

Of course, peat bogs should not be expected to block global warming. However, they are able to slow down their development for a certain period, which is also important.

You can read more about the study on the page .

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