Saturday, May 06, 2017

Amazon Rainforest Faces Double Jeopardy

Increased risk of drought-related wildfires at the heart of the Amazon rainforest adds to vulnerability caused by deforestation at the periphery.

Brazilian researcher Bernardo Flores inspects fire-devastated Amazon forest on the Cuyuni river floodplain. (Image Credit: Milena Holmgren/Wageningen University) Click to Enlarge.
The Amazon rainforest, the greatest and richest of the world’s tropical forests, is vulnerable both from without and within, according to two new studies.

The forested regions in the flood plains at the heart of the Amazon could be more than usually at risk of wildfire that could spread through the rest of the canopy to higher ground.

And although the loss of primary forest has slowed overall in the last 20 years, tree cover is still being lost at the forest’s periphery, as miners, ranchers, growers and loggers continue to degrade secondary forests and woodlands, according to a second study in Science Advances journal.

Everyone expected some attrition at the periphery of the primary forest.  But the big surprise is the potential weakness at its heart.

An international team of researchers reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they matched satellite and field data for the entire Amazon basin, compared forest resilience in those places that were often flooded and never flooded, and analyzed the distribution of trees across the river basin.

Read more at Amazon Rainforest Faces Double Jeopardy

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