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Peat land Sensitivity to Climate Warming

Peat lands form one of the dominant features of Canada's Landscape. Charles Tarnocai, a long time friend, colleague, and research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada estimates that over 12% or 1.136 million km2 are peat lands in Canada. He estimates also that these peat lands contain about 56% of all the organic carbon stored in Canadian soils.

The map featured this month was produced by Kettles and Tarnocai in 1999 and appears in a recent article by Charles on "The Effect of climate change on carbon in Canadian Soils. (Available on line through Elsevier's global and planetary change 53 (2006) 222-232).

Using a model for estimating peat land sensitivity to climate warming he predicts that a large part of the peat lands are expected to be severely effected by climate change and a large part of the carbon could be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane.

I have used this map to make an overlay in Google Earth for Manitoba where I have done some permafrost melting studies. (See "Monitoring Permafrost Melting with Google Earth" on this web site). With this overlay, it is easier to understand and assess the significance of this map for the various landscapes in Canada. If you have Google Earth on your computer you can look at peat land sensitivity while "flying over the landscape". The link is: permafrost sensitivity map.kmz The overlay can be made more or less opaque by editing the placemark.