Climate Change Threat Amazon Rainforest, NASA says

A NASA-Led Study has shown that parts of the Amazon rainforest twice the size of California is still suffering from a “megadrought” began in 2005. Cited researchers and damage from recurrent droughts in the Amazon over the past decade as evidence that the rainforest could face “substantial degradation due to climate change.”

The study looked at satellite microwave radar, data 2000-2009 raindrops the size of the tropical rain Telescope Measuring Mission, and water content of the rainforest canopy of Seawinds scatterometer on NASA’s QuikScat satellite.

During the summer of 2005, more than 270,000 square miles of old growth forests in the Amazon have “extensive, severe drought.” It megadrought cause changes in the forest canopy, including the possibility of branch dieback and tree falls. Although precipitation levels recover after years of drought, many forest canopy damage remained until the next drought in 2010.

“The biggest surprise to us that the effect proved to persist for many years after the drought in 2005,” said Yadvinder Malhi, co-author of the study at the University of Oxford. “We hope the forest canopy to bounce back after a year with a flush of new leaf growth, but the damage seems to last until the next drought in 2010.”

This study shows that about 30% of the total forest area in the Amazon basin are affected by drought in 2005. Nearly half of all Amazon forest affected by the drought of 2010. Dryness in the abnormally high during the last decade. Research has shown that rainfall in the southern Amazon rainforest fell by almost 3.2% from 1970 to 1998.

Malhi and his colleagues due to the recent Amazon droughts in the long-term warming of tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures.

“As a result, the same phenomenon of climate that helped to form hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the coast of the southern United States in 2005 was also likely caused by a severe drought in southwestern Amazonia,” said Sassan Saatchi, research leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “An extreme climate events caused by drought, followed by Amazon tree damage.

“Our results indicate that the drought will continue five to 10 years the gap or increase in frequency due to climate change, large areas of the Amazon rainforest may be impacted by repeated drought and a slow recovery according forests. This will be the structure and function of the ecosystem of the Amazon rain forest. ‘

(Image courtesy of NASA / JPL-Caltech)