Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Crucial peatlands carbon-sink vulnerable to rising sea levels

29.06.2016

Crucial peatlands carbon-sink vulnerable to rising sea levels, research shows

Rising sea-levels linked to global warming could pose a significant threat to the effectiveness of the world's peatland areas as carbon sinks, a new study has shown.


Crucial peatlands carbon-sink vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Credit: Alex Whittle / University of Exeter

The pioneering new study, carried out by Geographers at the University of Exeter, examined the impact that salt found in sea water has on how successfully peatland ecosystems accumulate carbon from the atmosphere.

The researchers studied an area of blanket bog - a peat bog that forms in cool regions susceptible to high rainfall - at Kentra Moss, in Northwest Scotland.

They discovered that the rate at which the peatland area accumulated carbon was significantly impacted as the concentration of salt rose.

The results indicate that rising sea levels, linked to predicted climate change, could pose a serious threat to the future security of the peatlands because they would inundate areas and deposit more salt, further inland.

The findings feature in respected scientific journal, Scientific Reports, on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

Dr Angela Gallego-Sala, co-author of the paper and a Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at Exeter said: "Peatland areas play a crucial role in taking carbon from our atmosphere and storing it".

"We know that rising sea levels through global warming can have catastrophic effects on many areas across the globe, and this study shows just how vulnerable some peatland areas are to the same phenomenon.

"The effects of global warming are already being observed, but the longer we wait to act, the quicker changes to our environment, which would have a devastating impact on many regions around the world, will take place."

Rain-fed peatlands are recognised as being a globally important environmental resource because they absorb and store carbon.

Their unique plant communities and their inherent wetness are known to help control their ability to act as carbon stores. However, this new research shows that there is a threshold concentration of salt above which, the plant communities are less successful at absorbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.

Blanket bogs, such as the one used for the study, are distinctive peatland ecosystems occupying specific coastal, high-latitude areas, making them vulnerable to sea-level change.

The study, which arose from an undergraduate research project carried out by student Alex Whittle and Dr Gallego-Sala, looked at the age and density of carbon that was stored in core samples taken in three specific areas, starting next to the coastline and moving progressively inland.

The samples showed that as salt levels increased, the vegetation that colonise the bogs altered significantly, resulting in a sharp decline in carbon storage. The research suggests that if sea levels rise and blanket bogs receive more salt-water, so the rate at which carbon can be stored will sharply decline.

Alex Whittle, author of the paper and now a research student in the Department of Geography said: "This study highlights the global scale and geographical distribution of peatlands potentially vulnerable to sea-level change. We hope our work will increase awareness of this risk and thereby stimulate future research on this topic".

Dr Gallego-Sala added: "What started out as an undergraduate project has led to a ground-breaking new study, and produced some startling results. Peatland areas are vital for our ecosystems and hopefully this study will help give us a greater understanding of the threats that they are facing in the future."

Vulnerability of the peatland carbon sink to sea-level rise, by Alex Whittle and Angela Gallego-Sala, is published in Scientific Reports.

Duncan Sandes | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles
23.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Less radiation in inner Van Allen belt than previously believed
21.03.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>