sixteenth April (UPI) – New research indicates that periods of global warming during the last ice age promoted the formation of peat bogs.
Researchers began developing a computer model to simulate local climate patterns over the last 26,000 years. The last ice age reached its glacial maximum 26,000 to 22,000 years ago, after which the glaciers began to retreat.
The scientists also established a schedule for mooring with radio-carbon dating peat samples collected in North America, Northern Europe, and Patagonia. When comparing their timeline with the simulations of their model, they found higher local summer temperatures, not increased rainfall, exactly predicted moorland formation.
"This work explains the genesis of one of the world's major ecosystem types and its potentially fragile carbon loading," said Paul Morris, a lecturer in ecohydrology at the University of Leeds, in a press release. "It is important that we deepen our understanding of the causes of peat-land-based pandemics, especially given the concern for future climates and the important role that bogs play in combating climate change."
Moors form over millennia when plant remains accumulate but do not collapse as a result of wet, acidic conditions. This lack of decomposition prevents carbon from being released back into the atmosphere. Bog soils account for much of the world's carbon reserves, but are believed to be sensitive to climate change.
By better understanding the peat-formation process, scientists can better predict how they will be affected by rising temperatures.] Morris and his colleagues published their study of peat bogs in the PNAS journal this week.
"Our findings highlight the genesis and Holocene climate space of one of the world's most carbon-rich ecosystems with implications for understanding the trajectories of environmental change under changing future climates," researchers wrote in their paper.