If you don’t know about peat bogs, you might want to educate yourself. They store more carbon than all the earth’s forests. (More)

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I remember hiking through peat bogs in northern Minnesota when my kids were in grade school (30 year ago) and on an environmental field trip/camping overnight. I also associate them with Scotland and historical fiction novels.

Here’s some peat bog statistics that may give you a dose of hope about climate change.

Did you know that peatlands store more carbon than all the world’s standing forests, even though they make up but 3 percent of the Earth’s surface?

Or that there are extensive peatlands in the tropics as well as the boreal zone, with one the size of New York State discovered just last year in the Congo? Or that northern Minnesota, which has the largest area of peatlands in the lower 48 states, is also home to cutting-edge research on peatlands and their place in the calculus of global warming?

Jeremy Hance writes in ensia about the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station.

Randy Kolka hands me a fist-sized clump of brownish-black material pulled up by an auger from a bog. It’s the color and texture of moist chocolate cake. When I look closely I can see filaments of plant material. This hunk of peat, pulled from 2 meters (7 feet) below the surface, is about 8,000 years old. I’m holding plants that lived and died before the Egyptians constructed the pyramids and before humans invented the wheel. In my hand is history. And carbon gold.


Peatlands are the superheroes of ecosystems: purifying water, sometimes mitigating flooding and providing a home for rare species. And they beat nearly every system when it comes to carbon storage. Known peatlands only cover about 3 percent of the world’s land surface, but store at least twice as much carbon as all of Earth’s standing forests. And at least one-third of the world’s organic soil carbon, which plays a vital role in mitigating climate change and stabilizing the carbon cycle, is in peatlands.

There’s a wealth of information in both linked articles. I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity. I will take any good news when it comes to fighting climate change and the role of peat bogs qualifies as good news.


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