NOTICE (March 2018): This website provides access to the CDIAC archive data temporarily. It will be gradually transitioned into data packages in the new ESS-DIVE archive. This site will continue to operate in parallel during and after the transition, and will be retired at a future date. If you have any questions regarding the data or the transition, please contact

image image image image


Area and Carbon Content of Sphagnum Since Last Glacial Maximum - K. Gajewski, A. Viau, M. Sawada, D. Atkinson and S. Wilson

Studies of present and past conditions are important in advancing our understanding the relationships between vegetation, climate, and atmospheric carbon dioxide, so that we can better anticipate how ecosystems (and the global carbon cycle) might respond to increasing emissions and atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In addition to considerations related to the global carbon cycle, the distribution of specific types of ecosystems has implications for biodiversity and the structure and function of the biosphere.

Globally, terrestrial vegetation has been estimated to represent a reservoir of 500 petagrams of carbon (1 Pg = 1015 grams) during the 1980s, with an additional 1500 Pg C held in soils (Prentice et al. 2001), amounts that could change by hundreds of petagrams of carbon during the next few hundred years in response to global warming and increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (Schimel et al. 1996). The database presented in this section provides estimates of areal extent and carbon content of Sphagnum peatlands during the past 21,000 years.


Prentice, I.C., et al. 2001.
The carbon cycle and atmospheric carbon dioxide, pp. 183-237 in Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis, Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Houghton, J.T., Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell, and C.A. Johnson, eds.). Cambridge University Press.

Schimel, D., et al. 1996.
Radiative forcing of climate change, pp. 65-131 in Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, Contribution of Working Group I to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(Houghton, J.T., L.G. Meira Filho, B.A. Callander, N. Harris, A. Kattenberg, and K. Maskell, eds.). Cambridge University Press.

rmc 10/2002