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  Information - SSS8 Organic soils and Carbon Sink: characterization, relevance, analysis

Event Information
Peatlands represent some of the most important carbon stores in the world. They contain nearly 30 percent of all carbon on the land, while only covering 3 percent of the area. As one of the largest carbon stories of the world, peat plays a significant function in the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and global climate. Peat bogs are very important as carbon sinks. Peatlands in several regions revealed actively sequestering carbon. Peat organic matter regulates long-term C storage and nutrient availability to plants and microbes. Peatlands are a source of peat for horticulture, pomology, and floriculture and are also used for forestry and agriculture. Unfortunately, despite these benefits, peatlands around the world have been heavily utilized or degraded. Agricultural use of peatlands and their exploitation lead to the release of carbon. Long-term cultivation and agricultural use of peatlands has led to a number of effects including lowering of the water table, increased aeration, and changes in plant communities. The decline in peat soil moisture content resulting from drainage leads to shrinkage of the peat. Volume change due to shrinkage is the result of several forces acting at micro-scale, and its mechanism and magnitude differ from those in mineral (clay) soils. Drainage in particular results in a sharp change of biotic and abiotic properties and consequent degradation of peat organic matter. In general, this leads to the progressive differentiation of the hydrophobic and total amino acid contents. The sequential changes in physical and hydraulic properties initiated by drainage for agriculture have an important influence on chemical properties and, in turn, on the net fluxes of CH4, CO2 and N2O from agricultural peat soils. Aeration of the upper peat layers resulting from drainage and agricultural land use triggers the aerobic decomposition process that causes carbon dioxide emissions from the soil. Thus peat soils and land use play an important role in the global budgets of these gases.

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