Only 20 percent of Ireland’s peatlands are still intact •

Only 20 percent of Ireland’s peatlands are still intact

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a region of central Ireland where peat bogs have been dug up for fuel. The photo was captured on August 13, 2022 by the Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI) on Landsat 9. 

“Peat extraction involves draining the wetland of water and removing the green mossy cover before cutting into the peat. Lines in the soil show where peat has been cut to make turf briquettes used for heating homes,” says NASA. “Some peat has historically been mined for use in power plants and some is used for horticulture.”

According to NASA, peatlands can store thousands of years of carbon in the depths of their soil, making them one of Earth’s most important carbon sinks. 

“Draining and cutting peatlands turns them into brown deserts,” said Florence Renou-Wilson of the University College Dublin. “It also releases all the carbon they have stored away.” 

Renou-Wilson’s research shows that only about 20 percent of Ireland’s peatlands are still intact. She calls this remaining peat the country’s “last remaining wildlands.”

In collaboration with Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency, Renou-Wilson is studying how to protect intact wetlands and restore those that have been degraded.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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