Jul 21, 2019 | Updated: 09:46 AM EDT

The Amazon Suffers Self-Amplified Forest Loss; Could Turn 38 Percent Into Savanna

Mar 15, 2017 07:09 PM EDT

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Deforestation In Brazil's Amazon Skyrockets After Years Of Decline
(Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images) Experts observed an extensive dieback circle and forest loss in the Amazon. Vicious drought and lack of rain further increase the problem.

Experts observed an extensive dieback circle and forest loss in the Amazon. Vicious drought and lack of rain further increase the problem. Further, human-caused environmental abuses like logging and greenhouse gasses are amplifying situation.

An international team of experts published their findings of Amazon's denudation and massive deforestation. They used a novel complex network analysis of water fluxes. According to Delphine Clara Zemp, lead author of the study published in Science Daily, the problem in Amazon is a double-edged sword.

Experts already know that reduced rainfall causes trees to die. Subsequently, the dying forests can't hold much water and further amplifies denudation. Meaning, droughts are leading to fewer forests which in turn leads to more droughts. This domino effect is apparent in the Amazon.

Zemp calls this phenomenon as "self-amplified forest loss." The study also stressed that the Amazon suffered the same problem about 20,000 years ago. Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research suggests that 10 percent of the forest is affected by self-amplified forest loss. However, evidence points to a previous problem that escalates as massive as 38 percent loss of trees.

Meanwhile, experts are still debating about the timeframe in which self-amplified forest loss can last. The sensitivity analysis used in the research can't directly point how long the Amazon forests will suffer dieback. Simply put, Amazon's water cycle is a plain mystery of nature albeit physics and biology trying to shed light on it.

Due to change in sea-surface temperature, the wet season is getting more rains while the dry season is getting harsher. This condition has a direct impact, particularly in the Southern and Eastern Amazon regions. The worse dry season is feared to fast track the self-amplified forest loss which will eventually morph some Amazonian areas into a savanna.

If there is a relief, Amazon areas that have diverse vegetation are more likely to survive against self-amplified forest loss. Experts explained that varied species react differently to drought stress. This contributes to the resiliency of such areas.

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