Shrubs diminish the positive impact of moors on climate change

Botany | Biodiversity | Climate Change | 24/01/13 | Worldwide


Up to now, moors have played a significant role as carbon stores. Moors only cover 3% of land surface but store 20% of organic carbon. For this reason bogs are hot spots for carbon storage and contain twice as much carbon as forest biomass on the global scale. Peat bogs have contributed to global cooling for millennia by extracting greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Over a period of three years four peat bogs at different altitudes were studied closely.  The degradation products of peat mosses decrease by approximately 50% along the elevation gradient, since vascular plants and mostly small shrubs increasingly replace the mosses.

Current research results prove that vascular plants can increase the availability of nitrogen in their leaves. This leads to improved growth in correlation with soil temperatures. Higher soil temperatures result in better growth. Moreover the roots of vascular plants release more organic material into the soil with rising soil temperatures, what in turn intensifies decomposition activity of the microorganisms in the ground. As a result degradation of old peat is accelerated and carbon dioxide, which otherwise will be stored for thousands of years, is released into the atmosphere. That way peat bogs could turn from carbon sinks to carbon sources and promote climate change rather than slowing it down.


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