Amazon rainforest losing resilience, may turn to savannah: Research

Amazon rainforest losing resilience, may turn to savannah: Research

by Pranali Mehta

The Amazon, Earth’s largest rainforest, located in Brazil, is reportedly nearing a ‘tipping point’, where all its trees might die at once, claim researchers that have been studying the region for years.

In a study conducted by the University of Exeter, the Technical University of Munich, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), it has been suggested that the rainforest is losing the ability to revive itself from the damage caused by natural calamities like floods and droughts, as well as from deforestation.

It is speculated that vast forest areas can turn into thinly forested savannah, which would not be much efficient in sucking carbon dioxide from the air than a tropical forest.

The carbon dioxide, if not trapped by the Amazon Forest, would otherwise further add to global warming. However, previous studies showed that certain parts of the rainforest are emitting more CO2 than they can absorb.

Dr. Chris Boulton, University of Exeter, explained that the trees are losing health and could be moving towards a tipping point, which would be a mass death.

The findings of the study, based on three decades worth of satellite data, shows an alarming trend in the health of the rainforest, with signs of loss in resilience in over 75% of the Amazon Forest and trees taking longer in recovering from droughts.

Climate change and the impact of human activities such as fires and deforestation have largely been found as the cause behind it, and may even cause forest dieback if the cycle of damage persists, with devastating implications on biodiversity, climate change, and the local community.

It is predicted that a significant portion of the Amazon Forest could turn into a savannah, an ecosystem of grassland and trees, in a matter of decades once the process starts.

Dr. Boulton further stated that a large amount of carbon stored in the forest would then be released and further increase temperatures and affect global mean temperatures, adding that stopping deforestation would help in addressing the problem.

The researchers also stated, that in comparison to pre-industrial levels, about one-fifth of the rainforest has been lost already.

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Pranali Mehta

A chemical engineer by qualification, Pranali Mehta dutifully walked down the slated path and worked in a chemical firm for a year. Her passion for writing however, pushed her into experimenting with the same as a career. With over three years of experience in content writ Read more...