Amazon Faces Deforestation and Drought Over the Next Century

The Amazon rainforest is so large that it has an important impact on the world’s climate.

Much of the Amazon is facing a death spiral of deforestation and drought over the next century, according to a new study. Projected reductions in rainfall would not lead to “complete Amazon dieback” but “large parts” of the vast region were “certainly at risk”, one of the researchers said.

The water cycle of the Amazon has been described as “one of nature’s great wonders”, but the forest has been under pressure from the timber industry, agriculture and the effects of climate change.

Much of the Amazon is facing a death spiral of deforestation and drought over the next century, according to a new study. Projected reductions in rainfall would not lead to “complete Amazon dieback” but “large parts” of the vast region were “certainly at risk”, one of the researchers said.

The water cycle of the Amazon has been described as “one of nature’s great wonders”, but the forest has been under pressure from the timber industry, agriculture and the effects of climate change.

Much of the Amazon is facing a death spiral of deforestation and drought over the next century, according to a new study. Projected reductions in rainfall would not lead to “complete Amazon dieback” but “large parts” of the vast region were “certainly at risk”, one of the researchers said.

The water cycle of the Amazon has been described as “one of nature’s great wonders”, but the forest has been under pressure from the timber industry, agriculture and the effects of climate change.

“Our study provides new insight into this issue, highlighting the risk of self-amplifying forest loss which comes on top of the forest loss directly caused by the rainfall reduction.”

The researchers found that expected reductions in a reduced flow of moisture from the oceans were likely to cause the loss of some areas of the forest.

The subsequent feedback between the vegetation and the climate would then produce additional forest losses that “could amount [to] up to 25 to 38 per cent of the Amazonian basis”, according to a paper about the study in Nature Communications.

This would turn the forests into a radically different savannah environment.

Another of the researchers, Dr Carl Schleussner, also from the Potsdam Institute, said: “Projected rainfall changes for the end of the 21st century will not lead to complete Amazon dieback.

“But our findings suggest that large parts of it are certainly at risk.”

The Amazon has already seen considerable changes to its weather.

Anja Rammig, also from the Potsdam Institute, said: “Today, the wet season is getting wetter and the dry season drier in southern and eastern Amazonia due to changing sea-surface temperatures that influence moisture transport across the tropics.

“It is unclear whether this will continue, but recent projections constrained with observations indicate that widespread drying during the dry season is possible in the region.”

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