The peatlands occupy only a small surface area of our planet. But they play an important role in shaping the climate. The peatlands store almost a quarter of all soil carbon. The researchers managed to draw up the most accurate map of the location of peatlands, taking their depth and the possible volume of greenhouse gases into account. Making this map, the scientists came to the conclusion: a global warming leads to the fact that peatlands begin to actively release more carbon than accumulate it.
They are formed in those places where there is a boggy area, manifested in the decomposition of plant material. Such areas are rich in plant carbon. Most of the peatland areas are located in the northern regions of the planet, where taiga and tundra areas prevail.
The peatlands helped to cool the climate for nearly 10 million years. Now large areas of the peatlands that are permafrost, are melting. And as they melt, they release the frozen carbon back into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide and methane. As a result, the scientists are forced to recognize that the peatlands are an important part of the global carbon cycle and climate.
As the plants grow, there is an accumulation of CO2 from the atmospheric air. The material accumulates in peat, and becomes less in the atmosphere. It leads to the fact that in the future the climate will become cool.
While the knowledge about the peatlands is very important, the scientists do not have a complete map of their location and data on how much carbon they can store in themselves. A map compiled by a team of the researchers shows the location of the northern peatlands and permafrost.
The creation of the map turned out to be difficult. It was due to many different local factors, such as how water flows into the landscape. The scientists had to collect and analyze over 7,000 field observations and use new statistical models based on the machine learning to create the map.
As a result, it turned out that there are currently about 3.7 million square kilometers of peat bogs on the planet. They are slightly smaller than India. They store 415 gigatons of carbon.