Climate Change is now being felt around the world. Under the UK Government’s projections, climate change also poses significant threats to Somerset. The county’s long coast and large areas of low-lying land make it one of the UK’s most climate-vulnerable areas, facing increased risks from sea level rise, river flooding and drought.
Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, it would still not be the end of the story for climate change, with some impacts being unavoidable. This is because there is a 40 year delay between the release of emissions and the resulting increase in global temperatures. This is know as ‘climate lag’
What’s climate change got to do with the Avalon Marshes?
Peatlands in good condition have the potential to offer a significant nature-based solution to tackling climate change. We need to find ways to drastically reduce our global footprint, especially our carbon footprint; it is estimated that 60% of our ecological footprint is carbon. One place to look is definitely peatlands – and the Avalon Marshes has plenty of those!
Ecosystems like peatlands are capable of absorbing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide known as “carbon sinks,” making them ideal for helping to tackle climate change.Powerful Peatlands
Carbon Sinks and Climate Change
What usually springs to peoples’ minds when asked about carbon sinks are trees, whether it’s the local woodland where you walk your dog every day or the tropical rain forests of Brazil. But research suggests that trees are actually not the most efficient way to store carbon. Other often forgotten ecosystems, like peat bogs, can make a big impact.
As peat is formed in waterlogged conditions, it is hard to disturb, making it a very efficient carbon sink. However, if you drain or burn the peat, the balance is disturbed.
For example, draining water away from peat bogs causes the peat to dry, resulting in the vegetation decomposing much faster – and the release of carbon. Similarly burning peat – just as burning a tree – has the potential to release hundreds of years of stored carbon back into the atmosphere.