Peat Bog the Size of England Discovered

Congolese find is some 23 feet deep

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 27, 2014 1:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Republic of the Congo is home to a peat bog the size of England—but experts have only just discovered it. "There are parts of the planet that are still uncharted territory," says a scientist involved in the exploration of the site. "Few people venture into these swamps, as they are quite difficult places to move around in." The areas are only walkable for "a couple of months a year, right at the end of the dry season," Dr. Simon Lewis adds. Not only did his crew have to deal with wet feet during their three-week trek: They also faced gorillas, crocodiles, and elephants en route, and had to build platforms whenever they wanted to set up camp, reports the Guardian.

Satellite photos suggested the bog's existence, but it was the researchers' journey that confirmed it. The bog has an area of between 40,000 and 80,000 square miles, and its peat is as much as 23 feet deep. The result is billions of tons of the stuff, the BBC reports. Because peat is typically "a big carbon sink," Lewis says, scientists want to learn more about how the giant bog has affected the world's climate. They're bringing samples to Britain for analysis, which could reveal new information about a changing climate over 10,000 years. Interesting side note: Less than 3% of the planet's land is covered in peat, but those lands could house twice the carbon that all of Earth's forests do.

A screen shot from BBC video of the find.
A screen shot from BBC video of the find.   (BBC video)
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