"The fate of these carbon-hoarding habitats will play a big role in our planet’s climate future".
"Randy Kolka hands me a fist-sized clump of brownish-black material pulled up by an auger from a bog. It’s the color and texture of moist chocolate cake. When I look closely I can see filaments of plant material. This hunk of peat, pulled from 2 meters (7 feet) below the surface, is about 8,000 years old. I’m holding plants that lived and died before the Egyptians constructed the pyramids and before humans invented the wheel. In my hand is history. And carbon gold.
'That’s the oldest [from this bog] right there,' says Kolka, a soil scientist with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station.
Two hundred miles north of Minneapolis, I’m visiting the Marcell Experimental Forest, which has conducted research on northern Minnesota peatlands since 1960. These peatlands — the largest in the lower 48 — got their start during the end of the Ice Age when depressions carved out by great glaciers created pools for sphagnum moss and other water-loving vegetation to take root."