Area and Carbon Content of Sphagnum Since Last Glacial Maximum - K. Gajewski, A. Viau, M. Sawada, D. Atkinson and S. Wilson
Studies of present and past conditions are important in advancing our understanding the relationships between vegetation, climate, and atmospheric carbon dioxide, so that we can better anticipate how ecosystems (and the global carbon cycle) might respond to increasing emissions and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In addition to considerations related to the global carbon cycle, the distribution of specific types of ecosystems has implications for biodiversity and the structure and function of the biosphere.
Globally, terrestrial vegetation has been estimated to represent a reservoir of 500 petagrams of carbon (1 Pg = 1015 grams) during the 1980s, with an additional 1500 Pg C held in soils (Prentice et al. 2001), amounts that could change by hundreds of petagrams of carbon during the next few hundred years in response to global warming and increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (Schimel et al. 1996). The database presented in this section provides estimates of areal extent and carbon content of Sphagnum peatlands during the past 21,000 years.
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