Written by charlie
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 13:50
I’ve written previously about peat and its importance to gardeners, scotch drinkers and its role in climate change (carbon sequestration) but apparently, in this golden age of mapping and remote sensing, the world’s largest peatland has just been discovered in the Congo!
I've always considered bogs and fens (Both are considered Mires, but a major difference is water chemistry; Bog waters are acidic, and fens are neutral to alkaline) as the more mysterious types of wetlands, evoking images of Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles in the Scottish countryside.
Like myself, many people are more familiar with northern peat bogs, which are almost entirely populated by spagnatum moss. The Congo bog is different, consisting of a broad range of partially decomposed plant matter, detritus provided by the tropical rain forest. Due to the constant waterlogged conditions, decomposition happens very slowly, if at all, over the course of centuries and the peat layer slowly deepens, an estimated 5mm per year.
The massive bog wascreated during the last ice age, approximately 10,000 years old and is estimated to be between 40,000 and 80,000 square miles (102,000 sq km to 2024,000 sq km) in size and as deep as 23 feet. For comparison purposes, the state of Pennsylvania comes in at 46,055 sq miles (119,283 sq km). Since there are literally billions of tons of peat, the worlds largest carbon sink may have just been discovered
Prior to this discovery, the worlds largest bog was located in West Siberia, Russia, and covers more than a million square kilometers. Due to climate change and the permafrost melting, forzen bogs found in the tundra have been thawing out and increasingly releasing carbon (CO2) into the atmosphere.
The importance of conserving bogs can hardly be overstated. Consider this quick fact; peatlands cover less than 3% of the Earth's surface, but are believed to contain twice as much carbon as the world's forests.
Additional Reading and Sources
Some articles about Peat Bogs