The carbon bomb


The world's wetlands could release a carbon bomb if they are destroyed, scientists said at a conference linking wetlands and global warming in Brazil. Wetlands include marshes, peat bogs, river deltas, mangroves, tundra, lagoons and river flood plains, besides swamps. Together they account for 6 per cent of Earth's land surface and store 20 per cent of its carbon. They also produce 25 per cent of the world's flood, purify water, recharge aquifers and act as buffers against violent coastal storms. If all the wetlands released carbon, it would contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect. Water from wetlands may evaporate and rising sea levels could completely inundate them. Even so, the scientists said wetland rehabilitation was viable alternative to artificial flood control for coping with the larger, more frequent floods and severe storms forecast for a warmer world.


Down To Earth, August 2008