Amazon Drought Caused By Human Influence.
Researchers at the German Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) found the Amazon rainforest could be exposed to higher risks of dieback if dry seasons intensify and rainfall decreases. This could lead to a vicious dieback circle, they said in a study published in Nature Communications. “The Amazon rainforest is one of the tipping elements in the Earth system,” said lead-author Delphine Clara Zemp, who conducted the study at PIK. The researchers found the close relationship between deforestation and drought could put the Amazon further at risk. Tropical forests produce most of the water they need themselves: they pump moisture which then rains back to them. Yet logging and warmer air – due to greenhouse gas emissions – reduce precipitation and hinder the moisture transport from one forest area to the other, affecting even remote areas. “Then happens what we call the ‘cascading forest loss,'” said co-author Anja Rammig from the Technical University of Munich, who is currently working as a guest scientist at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Changing sea-surface temperatures influence moisture transport across the tropics and lead to more extreme seasons in the different areas of the Amazon, said Rammig. Forests are home to 80 percent of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and crucial to maintaining the balance of ocean currents, wind patterns and rainfall. However, 30 percent of global forest cover has been cleared and 55 percent degraded or fragmented – only about 15 percent remains intact, according to the World Resources Institute. A fifth of the world’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest, says the conservation group Cool Earth. Climate change effects may also enhance drought levels, reduce rainfalls and increase the length of the dry season, Rammig said. Credit: DW Environment March 2017.
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