Bogs may have started past global warming

Oct. 18, 2006 at 12:31 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A U.S.-Russian study suggests methane gas from northern peat bogs 11,000 to 12,000 years ago helped fuel a previous major round of global warming.

The event marked the end of the ice age, report the researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

As the incipient bogs were strong producers of methane, the findings help solve a long-standing mystery about the source of a massive infusion of atmospheric methane that helped raise the Earth's surface temperature following the ice age, said Glen MacDonald, the lead author of the study and a UCLA climate change scholar.

"Scientists have long known the northern bogs produce methane but until now they were generally dismissed as the source of this change ... because they were thought to have formed too slowly and too late to be a factor," said UCLA geography Professor Laurence Smith, study co-author. But Smith says the study found the initial development of the huge complex of northern bogs that now cover 1.54 million square miles occurred earlier than previously thought.

The scientists reported the research in the Oct. 13 issue of the journal Science.

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