Irish Peatlands have removed CO2 from the atmosphere for millennia, but new research suggests they may absorb less CO2 if late summers get warmer

Peatlands are found throughout the world and are known to play a critical role in removing CO2 from the atmosphere, preserving biodiversity and lowering summer temperatures, particularly in temperate northern countries such as Ireland, Canada and Finland.

The carbon flux measurement site at in Glencar, Co. Kerry, was one of the sites analysed in the study. Long-term data collected by Prof. Ger Kiely, Dr. Matteo Sottocornola and Dr. Paul Leahy of the Environmental Research Institute has shown a consistent sink of carbon dioxide at the pristine blanket bog. However, according to Dr. Leahy, one of the co-authors of the paper, “the strength of the sink depends on summer temperature and rainfall, and is likely to decrease and possibly even reverse under future climatic conditions” Continued monitoring of peatland carbon fluxes is especially important for Ireland as peatlands cover around 16% of the total land area, but contain 53% of Ireland’s soil carbon. Research is ongoing at another site, a cutaway blanket bog in Lullymore, Co. Kildare, to determine the carbon balance of naturally reforested cutaways”.  

Link to paper here