A new 40-year study on vegetation patterns in Irish bogs shows that drying is happening significantly faster than previously expected. The results suggest that bogs may not be as resilient as previously thought in the face of climate change.

The study, published in December 2022, compared changes in vegetation in twelve Irish peatlands after 40 years. Manually mapped vegetation maps were combined with newly retrieved drone imagery to assess the changes.

Results showed that the peatlands studied were drier than they were forty years ago, and that the overall change from wet to dry conditions occurred at a faster rate than previously reported for these slow-changing ecosystems.

Northern peatlands play a disproportionally large role in the global carbon balance due to the massive amount of carbon stored in peat and ongoing sequestration.

The results of the study raise concern for the future resilience of peatlands to changes in climate and land-use, as well as their potential impact on the peatland carbon balance.

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