Monitoring of Carbon-Rich Wetlands a Focus at UN Climate Talks

6 November 2013

New guidelines for calculating carbon emissions from wetlands will provide a more accurate picture of buried treasure — a massive amount of carbon on a scale that is often underestimated and often unnoticed because it is stored underground, experts say.

Tropical wetlands, including palm swamps and mangroves, are important carbon sinks, but as much as 80 percent of that carbon is stored in a submerged layer of peat. Because the depth and extent of the peat layer can vary, it is difficult to measure the volume and calculate the amount of carbon stored there.

The new guidelines to be presented at the upcoming U.N. climate summit in Warsaw offer improved methodologies that will make it easier for countries to measure wetland carbon fluctuations more accurately, said Daniel Murdiyarso, a principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

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