Climate change: Widespread drying of European peatlands
Peatlands are a natural carbon sink, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and burying it in the soil.
In Europe alone, they lock up about five times more carbon than forests.
But according to a new study, the continent's peatlands are in such a dry and fragile state, they could go into reverse, releasing rather than absorbing carbon.
Scientists say it is more important than ever that we restore and safeguard these boggy landscapes.
Researchers examined 31 peatlands across England, Ireland, Scandinavia and continental Europe to assess changes during the last 2,000 years.
The study, published in Nature Geoscience, found that most peatlands had become drier during the period 1800-2000 than they had been for the last 600 years.
40% were drier than they had been for 1,000 years
24% were drier than they had been for 2,000 years.