Scientists Map Vast Peat Swamps, a Storehouse of Carbon, in Central Africa
Scientists have mapped what they say is the largest peatland in the tropics, an area larger than New York State in the Congo Basin in Central Africa.
The peat, which consists of slowly decomposing vegetation in swamp forests, has been accumulating for more than 10,000 years. As in all peatlands, the vegetation is a natural storehouse of carbon taken from the atmosphere — in this case, about 30 billion metric tons of carbon, or roughly equivalent to the carbon in two decades of fossil fuel emissions in the United States.
“It’s astonishing to me that in 2017 we can be making these kinds of discoveries,” said Simon Lewis, a professor at the University of Leeds in England and an author of a study on the peatlands being published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.