MELBOURNE (Xinhua) – Swamps and wetlands could be 50 times more effective than rainforests in storing carbon, an Australian scientist researching the topic said on Monday.
Researchers at Victoria’s Deakin University found swamps bank up to one-third of the carbon found in terrestrial soils, yet only occupy four per cent of the planet’s land surface.
They are confident that wetlands will be a huge carbon sink that was missing in previous global carbon budgets.
Senior lecturer in freshwater ecology Dr Rebecca Lester told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Monday carbon could be stored for hundreds of years.
“We know from those initial studies that the potential for carbon to be stored in these systems is huge,” Lester said.
“Wetlands can store approximately 50 times as much carbon as quite high carbon sequestration ecosystems such as tropical rainforests.”
Carbon storage, which is fast gaining popularity as a way to counter the effects of climate change and fossil fuel emissions, is the process of capture and long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Research on the method has so far focused on terrestrial and coastal ecosystems such as carbon farming, or through sea-grass.
Lester suggested freshwater ecosystems may perform better than rainforests because of the way sediment and organic matter build up under water.
The sediment keeps the new leaves and tree matter in place while the organic matter is broken down. The slower breakdown acts as a carbon sink.