The peatlands of Dartmoor could be an underestimated resource in the fight against climate change as their ability to store carbon has not diminished in almost 150 years, research shows.
Scientists from the University of Plymouth investigated whether there has been a reduction in the strength of carbon sinks in the moor’s valley mires and blanket bogs.
By taking a series of core samples they were able to analyse peat age, bulk density and carbon content and calculate past rates of carbon accumulation.
The results show that both past and contemporary rates of CO2 sequestration were found to be at the maximum of those reported for temperate peatlands.
That, researchers say, suggests recent changes in climate appear to have had minimal impact on the strength of peatland carbon sinks in South West England.
It suggests that recent bioclimatic envelope models may be underestimating the potential future contribution that UK peatlands can make to carbon sequestration under observed climatic trends.
The study, published in the June edition of Science of the Total Environment, was conducted by academics and students from the University’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.