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The world's wetlands form a unique environment for natural species, but due to their fragility they are evermore under pressure. The study of the environment and the change elements which affect them are the core of this application area.

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Water mission extends its talents to carbon

22 March 2013

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ESA's SMOS satellite is not only proving its worth by mapping soil moisture and ocean salinity, this multifaceted satellite has now shown that it can 'see' through vegetation to monitor wetlands for a better understanding of Earth's carbon cycle.

It is widely appreciated that wetlands are important resources of freshwater and are rich in biodiversity.

However, it is less well known that wetlands also emit large quantities of methane - in fact, they contribute more methane to the atmosphere than any other natural source. Wetlands can also be both sources and sinks of carbon.

Although there is less methane in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas. It is estimated that atmospheric methane was responsible for about 20% of the rise in global temperatures last century.

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