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Tim Radford – Vast carbon sink found in Congo basin

A carbon sink as large as 20 years’ worth of US fossil fuel emissions has been identified in peatland in central Africa’s forests.

LONDON, 15 January, 2017 – British scientists have just discovered one of the richest stores of carbon on Earth. They have found 145,000 square kilometres of peatland – an area larger than England – in the forests of the central Congo basin.

The reservoir of compressed plant material holds at least 30 billion metric tons of carbon. And this pristine and undisturbed sink of peat is the equivalent of about two decades of fossil fuel combustion in the United States.

The discovery, reported in the journal Nature, is significant for two reasons. One is that it adds a substantial new component to one of the most head-scratching problems in climate science: the arithmetic of the carbon cycle, a cycle vital both to all living things and to climate machinery.

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