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Peatlands trap CO2, even during droughts

September 17, 2019
Scientists studied the two species of moss that make up the peatland. They discovered that in hot weather and drought conditions, one species resists, whereas the other is negatively impacted. In wet weather conditions the opposite takes place. Peatland however survives in the end. Although peatlands make up only 3% of the Earth's surface, they store one third of CO2 present in soil. Preserving peatlands would therefore limit the impact of future climate change.

Although peatlands make up only 3% of the Earth's surface, they store one third of the soil carbon trapped in soils globally. Preserving peatlands is therefore of paramount importance for mitigating climate change, provided that these vulnerable environments are not themselves threatened by global warming.

To better determine this risk, two French scientists, including Vincent Jassey, a CNRS researcher at the Laboratoire Ecologie Fontionnelle et Environnement (CNRS/Université Toulouse III -- Paul Sabatier/INP Toulouse), studied carbon uptake by the two main species of moss that make up the Le Forbonnet peatland in Frasne (Jura). They discovered that when temperatures were high and also during droughts, the two Sphagnum species behaved in opposite ways: Sphagnum medium resists drought, whereas the photosynthesis of Sphagnum fallax is negatively impacted; conversely, in very hot but humid weather, photosynthesis, and thus carbon uptake, in Sphagnum fallax increases, whereas there is a negligible effect on photosynthesis in Sphagnum medium. In both cases, then, the peatland survives.

These results show that peatlands can withstand future climate change, provided they are not disturbed. Making peatland conservation a priority would therefore help to limit the impacts of climate change in the future. The study was published on September 9, 2019 in Global Change Biology.

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Materials provided by CNRS. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Vincent E. J. Jassey, Constant Signarbieux. Effects of climate warming on Sphagnum photosynthesis in peatlands depend on peat moisture and species‐specific anatomical traits. Global Change Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14788

Cite This Page:

CNRS. "Peatlands trap CO2, even during droughts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2019. <>.
CNRS. (2019, September 17). Peatlands trap CO2, even during droughts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 15, 2024 from
CNRS. "Peatlands trap CO2, even during droughts." ScienceDaily. (accessed July 15, 2024).

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