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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  January 2017  /  The world’s largest tropical peatland

The world’s largest tropical peatland

Simon Lewis's discovery deep in the Congo basin

The world’s largest tropical peatland

A paper published in Nature on 11 January includes the first map of the peatlands of the central Congo basin. This reveals that peat covers an area of 145,500 square kilometres, slightly larger than the size of England.

Radiocarbon dates show that the peat began forming in the early Holocene, about 10,000 years ago, as central Africa became wetter. It stores an estimated 30 billion tonnes of carbon, equivalent to 20 time the current fossil fuel emissions of the United States of America.

This carbon, which was not known to exist before, increases the importance of retaining the integrity of this globally significant region of Earth.

The paper was reported on by the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, BBC World Service, Guardian and others.

See:


Image

The extent of the peat swamp


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