Steven Wilhelm, the Kenneth and Blaire Mossman Professor of Microbiology, is part of a team led by Jean-Philippe Gibert, a food web expert and assistant professor of biology at Duke University. Wilhelm's co-investigators include David Weston and Dale Pelletier, staff scientists in the Biosciences Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Jonathan Shaw, professor of biology at Duke. In the three-year project, the group will study and model the effects of warming on the complex network of bacteria, protists, and viruses that interact with peat moss.
Peat moss plays a key role in slowing climate change by keeping 370 million metric tpy of CO2 out of the atmosphere -- equivalent to the emissions from nearly half the car traffic in the US.
Though peatlands cover just 3 pct of the Earth's surface they store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests. Over hundreds or thousands of years, Sphagnum and other peatland plants pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere as they grow, trapping the carbon inside layers of partially decayed plant material up to 20 feet deep. But warming trends could put that carbon storage at risk. Rising temperatures could thaw or dry out peat wetlands, making them more prone to decay and wildfires. Decomposing or burning plants mean the heat-trapping gas long locked up in peatlands could be released, accelerating the global warming process.
To better predict the impacts of warming on peatlands and the carbon they contain, the team is studying a set of players they say are largely overlooked: microbes. Their previous work suggests that under future warming, the community of microbes and other tiny organisms that grow in and around peat mosses could shift balance, which could affect the ability of peatlands to sequester carbon. (Source: University of Tennessee, Knoxville, PR, 27 Jan., 2020) Contact:
University of Tennessee, Karen Dunlap, 865-974-8674, email@example.com,
Amanda Womac , 865-974-2992, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.utk.edu; Duke University,
Robin Smith, (919-681-8057, email@example.com, www.duke.edu
More Low-Carbon Energy News Peatland, Carbon Storage, Carbon Sequestration, Carbon Emissions, University of Tennessee,
Among the measures recommended by the study were richer countries transitioning to plant-based diets and reducing food waste, while aiding poorer nations to curb deforestation and restore degraded land. If a concerted global effort was made, land could be absorbing three gigatons of carbon by 2050, turning one of our biggest liabilities into a helping hand in the fight against climate change. The study also recommends:
The report notes that global climate models, which scientists use to predict climate change and its impacts, rarely account for the carbon that peat and other soils absorb, store and release.
Their new study incorporates 4,139 radiocarbon measurements from 645 peatland sites in northern Europe, Asia, and North America. But the main innovation is in how the researchers calculated the carbon storage in peatlands.
The report notes researchershave calculated that northern peatlands hold 1.1 trillion tons of carbon rather than previous estimates of roughly 545 billion tons.
The report concludes
that peatlands are decaying faster and releasing more carbon as the planet's thermostat climbs. (Source: Columbia University, Earth Institute, 21 Oct., 2019) Contact: Columbia University Earth Institute,
Prof. Jonathan Nichols, 212-854-3830, www.earth.columbia.edu
More Low-Carbon Energy News Peatland, CO2, Carbon Sequestrartion, Carbon Emissions, Carbon Sequestration,
The Exmooor National Park Authority noted it has already cut its carbon emissions by 30 pct by: improving energy efficiency within Authority-owned buildings; installing renewable energy along with a scheme to facilitate installation of 73 new renewable energy systems in local communities, farms and houses across Exmoor; the restoration of nearly 2,500 hectares of peatland in the National Park through the Exmoor Mires Partnership, with plans to extend this to at least 3,000 hectares.
Peatlands are the UK's single most important terrestrial carbon store, containing 20 times more carbon than all UK forests.
A functioning bog absorbs around 0.87 tpy of carbon per hectare year while dry peatland releases CO2 -- degraded peat in England is emitting an estimated 11 million tpy of CO2. (Source: Exmoor National Park Authority, Somerset County Gazette, 6 Oct., 2019) Contact: Exmoor National Park Authority, +44 1398 323665, www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk
More Low-Carbon Energy News Peatland, CO2, Carbon Sequestrartion, Carbon Emissions, Carbon Sequestration,
The EC concluded that 45 percent of the expansion of palm oil production since 2008 led to destruction of forests, wetlands or peatlands and resultant greenhouse gas releases.
The EC has added a number of exemptions which mean some palm oil could still be promoted as a green fuel, under certain conditions including allowing additional palm oil production coming from yield increases or produced on unused land to still qualify as green.
Although once seen as the main tool by which the EU could decarbonize road transport, and given generous subsidies under the 28-member trading bloc's Renewable Energy Directive over a decade ago,
many environmentalists are reportedly pushing the EU to ban crop-based biofuels and move instead to incentivizing second-generation, cellulosic biofuels.
(Source: EU, European Biodiesel Board, Successful Farning, Forbes, 14 Mar., 2019) Contact: European Biodiesel Board, www.ebb-eu.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News European Commission, Palm Oil, Biodiesel, European Biodiesel Board,
The draft details curbing any biofuels with a high ILUC-risk and its amount of consumption in 2019 within the Member States. The EU also outlined an ambitious goal of reducing any high-risk biofuel's contribution to 0 pct by 2030.
"Directive (EU) 2018/2001 also calls for a specific limit to conventional biofuels, bioliquids and biomass fuels with high ILUC-risk and for which a significant expansion of the production area into land with high carbon stock is observed, in the amount of their level of consumption in each Member State in 2019," the draft stated. "Starting from 31 December 2023, their contribution should be gradually reduced to 0 pct by 2030 at the latest."
Despite the draft's promising changes to the uses of palm oil, ePure argues that the draft would still 'allow imported feedstock that violates spirit of RED II agreement.'
"Making an exception for feedstock produced by smallholders isn't just allowing high-ILUC-risk biofuels such as palm oil into Europe through the back door, it's allowing it through the front door. The hard-won compromise reached on RED II couldn't have been clearer in its message that Europe should phase out biofuels associated with the significant deforestation and peatland drainage that has defined most palm oil expansion."
"Low-ILUC-risk biofuels certified as such could escape from the phase-out, but these were clearly defined as either produced through improved agricultural practices or from unused land. By inventing a third, alternative criterion for smallholders, the Commission is making a mockery of the agreed RED II compromise," Desplechin claims.
(Source: ePURE, Feb., 2019) Contact: ePURE Emmanuel Desplechin, Sec. Gen., +32 2 657 6679, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.epure.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News ePure, Palm Oil, Biodiesel,
"Making an exception for feedstock produced by smallholders isn't just allowing high-ILUC-risk biofuels such as palm oil into Europe through the back door, it's allowing it through the front door," said Emmanuel Desplechin, Secretary General of ePURE, the European renewable ethanol association. "The hard-won compromise reached on RED II couldn't have been clearer in its message that Europe should phase out biofuels associated with the significant deforestation and peatland drainage that has defined most palm oil expansion."
"Low-ILUC-risk biofuels certified as such could escape from the phase-out, but these were clearly defined as either produced through improved agricultural practices or from unused land. By inventing a third, alternative criterion for smallholders, the EC is making a mockery of the agreed RED II compromise," the ePure Secretary General added.
European renewable ethanol is made from European feedstock and delivers high greenhouse-gas reduction and is not associated with deforestation. Its use cuts GHG emissions by more than 70 pct on average compared to fossil petrol. (Source: ePure, EC, Feb., 2019)
Contact: European Renewable Ethanol Assoc. (ePURE), Emmanuel Desplechin, Sec. Gen., +32 2 657 6679, email@example.com, www.epure.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News Palm Oil, Biodiesel , ePure, Biofuel,
Carbon farming uses land management and conservation to increase the amount of carbon that agriculture pulls out of the air and locks into the soil and vegetation. Existing carbon farming programs in California, the Midwest and other countries have shown that a 2.5 acre plot of pasture or rangeland can store about one metric tpy of carbon. The NC peatlands, once re-wetted, have much greater potential -- perhaps 15 to 20 times more -- meaning the land could yield hundreds of thousands of metric tpy of carbon.
The Duke project will launch with a 300 acre pilot which could be expanded depending on its results. To date, the university has invested approximately $300,000 on the project which could sell carbon credits to companies.
(Source: Duke University, Triangle Business Journal, Dec., 2018) Contact: Duke University, Curtis Richardson, Dir., Wetland Center, ww.researchgate.net/profile/Curtis_Richardson
More Low-Carbon Energy News Peatland, Peat, Duke University, CCS, Carbon Emissiuons, CO2, Climate Change,
The bill aims to bring about a social, business and government dialogue to formulate and drive the concrete plans, policies, and investments needed for a fast and fair transformation to a low-carbon economy.
The Green Party initiative
follows Bord na Mona's announcement of job cuts in its peat harvesting business by 2025.
The Bill proposes that funding currently used to sustain peat-fired power plants be diverted to support job transition, peatland restoration and social protection for those who may lose their jobs in fossil fuel related industries.
"The Bill is about moving from a fossil-fuel economy to a sustainable, climate-friendly economy as quickly and as fairly as possible," according to Green Part Leader Eamon Ryan. (Source: Green News ie, 8 Nov., 2018) Contact: Green Party Ireland, Eamon Ryam, Leader, www.greenparty.ie; Bord na Mona Plc, Mike Quinn, CEO, Patrick Madigan, Bioenergy Division, +353 45 439000, www.bordnamona.ie
More Low-Carbon Energy News Bord na Mona, Low-Carbon Economy, Peat, Bord na Mona,
The programme is being developed by Marine Scotland in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, St Andrew's University, Glasgow University, Heriot-Watt University, Napier University, and the Scottish Association for Marine Science.
Scotland Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "The potential role of our marine environment in tackling the greenhouse gas problem is enormous, with recent research by the University of St Andrews estimating that more carbon is captured and stored in sea lochs alone than in our terrestrial environment, such as forests and peatlands. Scottish Natural Heritage has estimated that the amount of carbon stored within Scotland's Marine Protected Areas is the equivalent of four years of Scotland's total greenhouse emissions," the Environment Secretary added.
Chair of the Blue Carbon Forum Professor John Baxter said: the "Programme will provide essential information to help inform what is required to be done to enhance and protect these key habitats into the future which is essential for the mitigation of future climate change." (Source: Gov. of Scotland, Holyrood Mag., Nov., 2018)
Contact: St. Andrews University Professor John Baxter,
+44 (0)1334 46, firstname.lastname@example.org, startlink]St. Andrews Univ., www.st-andrews.ac.uk
More Low-Carbon Energy News Blue Carbon, CO2, Carbon Sink, Carbon Sequestration,
In total, the researchers estimated Victoria's inland wetlands had a soil carbon stock of 68 million tons, worth about $6 billion under Australia's most recent carbon price.
According to lead researcher Dr Paul Carnell, "While a lot more is known about how trees suck up and store carbon, freshwater wetlands can actually sequester 20 to 40 times more carbon than forests on dry land."
The study was funded by the Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
The study, published in the journal Global Change Biology.
(Source: Deakin University, PR, 26 June 2018) Contact: Deakin University, Dr Paul Carnell, Lead Researcher, +61 3 924 43902, email@example.com, www.deakin.edu.au: Blue Carbon, http://bluecarbonlab.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News Carbon Storage, Blue Carbon, Carbon Emissions,
According to the restoration project leader Morag Angus, of South West Water, "The peatlands of South West England are very important for water quality, carbon storage, biodiversity, cultural history, recreation and farming but they are the most vulnerable in the UK to the impacts of climate change, due to their southerly position. For this reason, they need to be prioritized nationally and restored for the benefit of all and future generations."
Peatlands store vast amounts of carbon in their soils -- about 60-times the amount of carbon that is released annually from fossil fuel burning. One-third of all the soil carbon in the world is in peatland ecosystems even though they cover only 3 pct of the terrestrial land surface, according to a 2015 joint study from Chapman University in California, University of Oregon and Purdue University .
(Source: DEFRA, Cornish Times, 20 May, 2018)Contact: DEFRA, www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-environment-food-rural-affairs
More Low-Carbon Energy News DEFRA, Peatland, Carbon Storage,
According to BRG, the restoration of peatlands with bioenergy crops would restore ecosystem services as well as address energy deficiencies and promote clean and renewable energy. To help achieve those goals, CIFOR is working in close collaboration with government institutions, universities and local partners, including This research was supported by the Korean National Institute of Forest Sciences.
Download the Peatland Restoration Agency Report HERE
(Source: Center for International Forestry Research, Dec., 2017) Contact: Center for International Forestry Research, +62-251-8622-622, www.cifor.org
More Low-Carbon Energy News Bioenergy Crop,
On June 19, 30 CGIAR scientists, representing seven CGIAR Centers and six CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), exchanged recent research findings and identified priorities for a future research agenda on soil carbon and climate change. CGIAR's current soil carbon and climate change work includes:
Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Indonesia and Peru may contain some of the worlds large tracks of peatlands, with research suggesting that in the DRC alone, peatlands may hold 30 billion tons of carbon or three years worth of global carbon emissions.
In concert with the GLF, the Center for International Forest Research (CIFOR) of the CIGAR research found "unprecedented extents and volumes of peatlands in the tropics, three times the size of previous estimates, and mainly outside Asia.
The research is meant to help countries find out if they have peatlands, determine their size and ascertain how best to protect them. (Source: IISD, 25 May, 2017) Contact: International Institute for Sustainable Development, (204) 958-7700, firstname.lastname@example.org,
www.iisd.org; Global Peatlands Initiative, +254-(020) 762-5109,
More Low-Carbon Energy News International Institute for Sustainable Development, Carbon Emissions, Peatland, Carbon Storage, Climate Change,