Moors cover just three percent of the landmass worldwide - but stores 30 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide. Moor environments are located mainly in the tundras of Russia, Northern Europe, Canada, and Alaska as well as tropical areas such as in the Phillipines. In order for a moor to develop, there must be an excess of water. Moors form in places where the rain fall is greater than the evaporation, such as the low mountains of Europe.
Moors occupy the space between terrestrial and aquatic environments. Unlike int he forest or on the meadow, dead organic matter does not decay completely ant transform in natural moors, but rather is stored. This is due to high water levels reaching the surface of the earth and a lack of oxygen that makes it difficult for land animals and microorganisms to survive and therefore significantly hampers the disintegration and mineralization of dead plant matter. The peat continues to grow upwards.
According to information from the literature (RÖDER, 1995), the maximum peat layer in the “Großer Kranichsee” moor area is 15 meters and it covers an area of 25 ha.
In order to illustrate the amounts of carbon stored in the moors, here is a little math game:
Let’s use the “Großer Kranichsee” high moor as an example, which has a peat bed rectangular in shape. The area of 25 ha corresponds to a surface area of 250,000m². This corresponds to a perimeter of 500 m x 500 m. The thickest peat layers in the moor should be 15 meters thick, but this thickness is not found throughout the moor. For this reason, we will assume average peat thickness and estimate about 8 meters.
Given: Area: 250,000 m² = perimeter 500 m × 500 m; peat thickness (assumed): 8 m
Missing: Volume V of the peat bed
Solution: V = a × b × c = 500 m × 500 m × 8 m = 2,000,000 m³
So the volume of the peat bed comes out to about 2,000,000 m³!
One m³ of peat stores 50-60 kg of carbon (Page, S. F. Siegert, J. O. Rieley, H. D. V. Boehm, A. Java, S. Limin (2002) "The amount of carbon released from peat and forest fires in Indonesia during 1997", in: Nature 420 (6911), p. 61-65.)
If the assumptions made above were true, this means that the Großen Kranichsee contains approximately 100,000 t of carbon (if we assume that there are 50 kg/m³) When oxygen is introduced, the carbon reacts and turns into carbon dioxide. The conversion factor is 3.67. (1 Atom C and 2 Atoms O = 1 Molecule CO2; and CO2 is 3.67 ties heavier than C.) Based on these calculations, this relatively small moor area alone removes 367,000 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. All of this is released again, however, when the moor is destroyed or drained, since the oxygen in the air reacts with the organic carbon of the peat to create CO2.
Moors are habitats that have formed over THOUSANDS OF YEARS. During this time, many millions of cubic meters of peat, and therefore carbon, have been stored and therefore pulled out of global circulation.
The great danger of draining large stretches of moor or removing peat therefore lies predominantly in the RAPID release of ENORMOUS amounts of CO2. This puts a greater burden on the diverse anthropogenic emissions of our climate! In contrast, growing moors continue to store carbon in the plants growing there!
There is an urgent need to re-water moors that have been drained, which involves raising the water levels at ground level.
Only then can oxygen from the air be kept out of the peat and the release of carbon dioxide stopped!