Scientists Say: Bog | Science News for Students

Scientists Say: Bog

This is a type of wetland that forms peat
Dec 11, 2017 — 6:30 am EST
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This is sphagnum moss, a kind of moss often found in bogs.
Wikimol/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY 2.5)

Bog (noun, “Bog”)

A bog is a type of wetland — or land that is covered with water. Bogs are found in cooler places, where plant growth is slow. Decay is also very slow in a bog. Because of that, dead plants — especially mosses — build up below the water, eventually becoming a substance called peat. Peat can be dug up, dried and burned as fuel.

Because things decay very slowly in bogs, items placed or left in bogs can be preserved. Those items can prove useful. Scientists can study preserved trees from bogs, for example, to find out more about ancient climate. Or they might study human bodies dumped in the bogs to learn more about how those people once lived.

Bogs are one of four main types of wetland. The other three are swamps, marshes and fens.

In a sentence

Scientists studied bogs to find out how Canada’s earliest people lived.

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Power Words

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acidic     An adjective for materials that contain acid. These materials often are capable of eating away at some minerals such as carbonate, or preventing their formation in the first place.

bog     A type of wetland that forms peat from the accumulation of dead plant material — often mosses.

climate     The weather conditions that typically exist in one area, in general, or over a long period.

decay     The process (also called “rotting”) by which a dead plant or animal gradually breaks down as it is consumed by bacteria and other microbes. 

fuel     Any material that will release energy during a controlled chemical or nuclear reaction. Fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and petroleum) are a common type that liberate their energy through chemical reactions that take place when heated (usually to the point of burning).

peat     Largely decomposed plant material that develops in the absence of oxygen within a water-saturated site, such as a bog. When dried out, peat can be burned as a low-grade fuel.

wetland     As the name implies, this is a low-lying area of land either soaked or covered with water much of the year. It hosts plants and animals adapted to live in, on or near water.