Globally, opportunities for the uptake and storage of CO2 are of vital importance in reducing the impacts of climate change. Biological systems such as peatlands can remove CO2 from the atmosphere. They cover only 3 per cent of the Earth’s terrestrial land area but are by far the most significant long-term store of plant carbon, holding twice as much carbon as all of Earth’s forest combined. In total this carbon equates to ~1800 gigatons of CO2, which is over half of the total amount held in the atmosphere. A Creative Associates project led by Dr Paul Lunt has been researching the carbon storage (sequestration) in temperate peatlands.
Over a period of 6 years students on an MSc Environmental Consultancy programme had collected data from Fox Tor Mire, Dartmoor. During the study, peat cores and depth measurements were taken at regular intervals across the mire to determine the rate of peat accumulation that had formed in the valley mire site since 1876. Previous to this date the mire had been used for mining which had left alluvial deposits of china clay that could be used as a distinctive and accurate marker for recording for peat growth between 1876-2011. The peat core was analysed to determine carbon and CO2 content.