Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, November 02, 2015

Carbon Storage Reliability

"There is one heck of a lot of carbon stored in Canadian peatlands. All of us wrote our proposals [1998 Mer Bleue Carbon Study], and said we're concerned about the massive amount of carbon. About one-third of the world's biological carbon is stored in peatlands."
"Our rationale was that it wouldn't take much to dry these things a little more [to release carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere]."
"We were wrong. I think we were wrong [by] almost 180 degrees. There is a tremendous amount of resilience within these ecosystems ... It's going to be very, very difficult to make the climate change enough to get them to tip over and become carbon sources [releasing stored carbon to the air]."
"It's kind of a yo-yo that goes back and forth. When you make the climate variable, so that there are years that are dry and years that are wet, the system responds within a range that keeps it within check. Which is very, very cool. We call it self-regulating."
"And that's really exciting because about 70 percent of peatlands in Canada are bogs."
Nigel Roulet, professor, geography department, McGill University

The Mer Bleue bog was identified as a possible early warning in changes that could be identified related to Climate Change. And so, scientists in Canada and in Europe began to study just what might occur in those bogs with the advent of more extreme weather conditions, and particularly the anticipated change attributed to a prevailing episode of recurring milder weather patterns.

Global warming caused by carbon emissions primarily caused by man-made carbon exhaust, according to the general scientific environmental consensus of those early days, would begin to have evident and deleterious effects around the Globe.

And it was feared that Canada's vast boreal forests which act as beneficial storehouses of carbon, and Canada's unique, large bogs would react to the atmospheric changes by beginning to emit and discharge their carbon stores, considerably adding to the instability of increased carbon dioxide, normally useful in promoting vegetative life, but in excess serving to interfere with light and energy receptivity from the sun and in the process creating a greenhouse gas effect.

It was anticipated that the wetlands including the vast eastern Ontario bogs would begin to dry as a result of climate change. However, seventeen years of gathering data has concluded that the wetland called Mer Bleue is surprisingly resilient to alterations in atmospheric climatic conditions. It is not the ethereal, fragile ecosphere that brimmed with expectant concern, after all. Like other bogs around the world, the strength of the bogs will contain the effects of climate change.

Bogs are hugely acidic; the dead plants within their purview release acid as they decompose, producing water so acidic microbes cannot thrive, and plants don't rot. What does happen to the plants is that they become 'pickled' by the acid over thousands of years producing peat; dense mounds of decomposed vegetable matter. "About one-third of the world's biological carbon is stored in peatlands" said Nigel Roulet, one of the main investigators of the Mer Bleue Carbon Study.

Remarkably preserved human corpses have been discovered in bogs in various parts of the world. In Denmark alone, over 500 Iron Age bog bodies and skeletons dating from between 800 B.C. and A.D. 200 have been discovered. Others have been unearthed in Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands. Even Britain and Ireland have released from their bogs the bodies of ancient humans so well preserved that some have the contents of their stomachs preserved.

The bog is indeed an ethereal place of quiet beauty. A boardwalk was built along the Mer Bleue bog, enabling people to walk along it. An assortment of plants grow alongside the bog, the most common of which is cattails, but also the intruder purple loosestrife, and low-growing blueberry bushes, which are nicely productive in season. Labrador tea grows there and many other plans, and birdlife is active as well. In the early evening, a twilight hush falls over the landscape, giving it an air of mystery.

It is maintained by the National Capital Commission as a 3,500-hectare conservation area, popular with locals living in the Ottawa area. As is its companion bog, some miles distant, the Alfred Bog which, unlike the Mer Bleue bog, has been commercially harvested for peat moss. The Alfred bog also plays host to countless delicate and exquisitely beautiful native orchids, called Ladies Slippers, and it too has a boardwalk to enable people to walk along without becoming immersed in the acidic water of the bog. Farms nearby the Alfred bog have been permitted to drain it for farming purposes.

Pink Ladies Slipper

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet