Continued global warming is expected to cause the release of billions of tons of carbon in coming decades as peat bogs dry up, according to a Harvard University study published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience (see article in Nature Geoscience.

Peat bogs are swampy areas whose cold, wet environments preserve organic matter and prevent it from decaying. They are found at northern latitudes, where melting sea ice, coastal erosion and destabilized permafrost have also been hallmarks of warming temperatures.

“Over several centuries, some 40 percent of carbon could be lost from shallow peat bogs, while the losses could total as much as 86 percent in deep bogs,” Harvard Professor Paul R. Moorcroft said.

The release of even a small percentage of the carbon sequestered in the world’s peat bogs “would dwarf emissions of manmade carbon,” EurekAlert! reported on Thursday, November 6.

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