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Jan 12, 2017 11:31 AM EST

University Scientists Find Massive Peatland In Central Africa, Warns Of Global Warming Impact

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Scientists discovered a massive peatland in the Congo Basin in Central Africa. It reportedly has an area that is larger than New York State.

According to the New York Times, English Professor Simon Lewis, from the University of Leeds, expressed his astonishment about their recent finding. The peat was said to have been accumulating for over 10,000 years.

Peats are composed of decomposing vegetation in swamp forests. One problem, though, is that it is a natural storehouse of carbon which is taken from the atmosphere.

This particular peat is estimated to have about 30 billion metric tons of carbon. It is equivalent to two decades' worth of carbon from fossil fuel emissions in the United States.

Dr. Lewis and his colleagues published their discovery in the journal "Nature." They first came up with their hypothesis about peatlands years ago when they were working on the Cuvette Centrale wetlands.

The current study utilized satellite imaging and analysis to figure out how massive the peat is. It has an area of about 55,000 square miles. This data, along with the depth of the peat which is about 20 feet, was used to determine the calculation of the amount of stored carbon.

The Washington Post reported that, as per the researchers, forests made up of certain species of hardwood trees and palms produce peats. The Congo Basin peat was estimated to have the same amount of carbon emitted by the entire world in three years.

Indonesia still has the greatest peatland area. This recent study has placed Congo and Congo Republic to second and third, respectively. It was noted that the African continent may be storing up to 34.4. billion tons of carbon in peatlands.

Speaking to AFP, via Yahoo News, Lewis warned that the peat should not be destroyed. If that happens, billions of tons of carbon would be released to the atmosphere.

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