World's Largest Peatland With 30 Billion Tonnes Of Carbon Found In Central Africa

Posted: Jan 12 2017, 4:51am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

World's Largest Peatland With 30 Billion Tonnes of Carbon Found in Central Africa
Cuvette Centrale. Image Courtesy of Simon Lewis
  • Researchers find Largest Storehouse of Carbon in the Center of Africa
 

Researchers have found what happens to be the largest storehouse of carbon in the center of Africa.

A peat bog in the Congo Basin has been discovered. It is the biggest in the tropical region. Termed the Cuvette Centrale peatlands in the central Congo Basin, they had been non-existent on the map half a decade ago. The area in which they are extant is 145,500 square kilometers in its range.

This is larger than England. Over 30 billion tonnes of carbon is stored in the peatlands making them one of the richest ecosystems on earth. The team of researchers spent three years finding this bonanza. 

The research effort of the analysis of this peatland was published in the journal Nature. Satellite data was also employed in the repertoire. The peat covers a large piece of land in the Congo Basin.

The estimate that was made originally has been left behind. This treasure trove of carbon is actually 16 times bigger than the earlier estimate.

30 billion tonnes of carbon is a lot and nobody knew it existed before this chance finding. The peat comprises 4% of the Congo Basin. The same amount of carbon lies underneath the ground as lies above it. 

The peatlands hold 30% of the world’s carbon. What this means is that it is almost equivalent to 20 years worth of the fossil fuel emissions of the United States. It was four years ago when this search for the peatlands in the Congo Basin began.

In 2014, they were found. A map of the region shows that this is a vast complex of carbon. The pinpointing of this region had been done on a haphazard basis in the past. Now it will be rectified. The area will not be neglected anymore. 

Peat is basically an organic wetland soil that is formed from the decomposition of plant matter. It is normally found in cool climates. These peatlands act as carbon pools.

They help remove carbon from the atmosphere. Waterlogging aids the peatland formation in the first place. When peatlands dry out, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

Such areas are a precious resource. The peatland in the Congo Basin had been forming since the past 11,000 years. Besides Congo, the Republic of Indonesia also contains peat bogs.

The peatlands in the Congo Basin remain untouched. Yet their vulnerability to change remains. That they remain intact will have to be ensured since no one wants even more carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere in the age of global warming.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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