A dangerous mix of human-caused devastation and cyclic drought could start a vicious circle of forest dieback in the Amazon.
Researchers have identified a climate feedback mechanism that could have catastrophic consequences for one of the world’s great rainforests.
They report that a dangerous mix of human-induced devastation and cyclic drought in the Amazon could launch a vicious circle of forest dieback. The drought that killed the trees could intensify because of the intricate relationship between the rainforest and the rainfall, in which trees play a role in maintaining a pattern of precipitation by pumping fallen water back into the atmosphere.
“We already know that, on the one hand, reduced rainfall increases the risk of forest dieback, and, on the other hand, forest loss can intensify regional droughts. So more droughts can lead to less forest, leading to more droughts, and so on,” says Delphine Clara Zemp, of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who led the international team of scientists behind the finding.
Read more at Cyclic Drought Threatens to Destabilize Amazon