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A floating mat of muck on the surface of Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp, home to rare carnivorous pitcher plants, blooming lilies and countless alligators and insects, looks like any other patch of mud from a distance.
Jumping off his skiff and onto the unsteady mass on a sunny May morning, naturalist Chris Adams called it a “blowup"—the result of the rotting swamp floor belching years of accumulated plant matter, or peat, to the surface.
Peat helps the swamp act like a giant sponge for carbon dioxide from the air. ...