Peatlands are a vital "carbon sink", currently storing more carbon than all the world`s vegetation. An international team, led by researchers at the University of Exeter, analyzed how this "carbon sink" effect changes in the face of global temperature increase.
The study showed they will store even more carbon in the future than was previously believed, but this initial increase in carbon storage -- estimated to be about 5 percent -- will be offset by reduced storage in tropical peatlands in places like Borneo and the Amazon region.
Decomposition in peatlands will speed up as the climate warms, which means more carbon and methane released, but the overall effect in these high-latitude regions will increase storage of carbon, said lead author Dr Angela Gallego-Sala of the University of Exeter.
"However, as warming continues, tropical peatlands will store less carbon because decomposition will speed up but higher temperatures in these already warm regions will not boost plant growth," said Gallego-Sala.
The paper has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.