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Climate change could become self perpetuating- danger in Indonesia’s peatlands, and fires

How the Earth will pay us back for our carbon emissions with … more carbon emissions, WP,   October 3 The really scary thing about climate change is not that humans will fail to get their emissions under control. The really scary thing is that at some point, the Earth will take over and start adding even more emissions on its own.

new study underscores this risk by looking closely at Indonesia, which has a unique quality — some 70 billion of tons of carbon that have built up in peatlands over millennia. In this, Indonesia is much like the Arctic, where even larger quantities of ancient carbon are stored in permafrost, and are also vulnerable.

global-warming1In each case, if that carbon gets out of the land and into the atmosphere, then global warming will get worse. But global warming could itself up the odds of such massive carbon release. That’s a dangerous position to be in as the world continues to warm.

In the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a team of researchers led by Yi Yin of the French Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement look at the potential of peat bogs in equatorial Asia — a region that includes Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and several other smaller countries but is dominated by Indonesia and its largest islands, Borneo and Sumatra — to worsen our climate problems. It’s timely, considering that last year amid El Niño-induced drought conditions Indonesian blazes emitted over 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere. That’s more than the annual emissions of Japan (or, needless to say, of Indonesia’s fossil fuel burning).

And the research finds that over the course of this century, that could keep happening. “The strong nonlinear relationship found between fire emissions and cumulative water deficit suggests a high future risk of peat carbon loss due to fire given that future climate projections indicate a twofold increase in the frequency of extreme El Niño,” the researchers write.

The situation arises because of the unique qualities of peat: In peat bogs, wetlands accumulate large amounts of organic matter — dead plant life — over many, many years. If those bogs are then drained, and fires are allowed to burn on them and deep into them, then it is possible to light up huge stores of ancient carbon and to put it back in the atmosphere much more rapidly than the speed at which it accumulated originally……..https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/10/03/there-are-our-carbon-emissions-and-then-there-are-the-ones-the-earth-will-punish-us-with/?utm_term=.b93ac1c3bb66

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October 7, 2016 - Posted by | climate change, Indonesia

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