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Humans are Changing the World's Peatlands
July 12, 2016
The peat bogs of the world, once waterlogged repositories of dead moss, are being converted into fuel-packed fire hazards that can burn for months and generate deadly smoke, warns a McMaster researcher who documents the threat—and a possible solution—in a paper published today in the journal Scientific Reports.
Since the glaciers receded about 12,000 years ago, the humble bog has acted as a storage vault for atmospheric carbon, packed with dead moss and topped by a green layer of living moss that can come back after a burn.
The world's bogs hold more carbon than the word's rainforests, and Canada is home to about 185 billion tonnes of increasingly vulnerable peat deposits, ranging from 40 cm to several metres deep.