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Current Affairs

Amazon rainforest regions more resistant to climate change

Date: 23 November 2020 Tags: Climate Change

Issue

A research has shown that some parts of Amazon rainforest is quite resilient towards climate change.

 

Background

The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, famed for its biodiversity. It covers much of north-western Brazil and extending into Colombia, Peru, and other South American countries.

 

Details

  • Forests can help mitigate climate change, by taking in carbon dioxide during photosynthesis and storing it in their biomass (tree trunks, roots, etc.).

  • Forests currently take in around 25-30% of our human-generated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

  • Certain rainforest regions, such as the Amazon, store more carbon in their biomass than any other ecosystem or forest but when forests become water-stressed, forests will slow down or stop photosynthesis. This leaves more CO2 in the atmosphere, and can also lead to tree mortality.

  • The current Earth system models used for climate predictions show that the Amazon rainforest is very sensitive to water stress.

  • Since the air in the future is predicted to get warmer and drier with climate change, translating to increased water stress, this could have large implications not just for the forest's survival, but also for its storage of CO2.

  • While models show that increase in air dryness diminishes photosynthesis rates in certain regions of the Amazon rainforest, the observational data results show the forests instead increase photosynthesis rates in response to drier air.

  • As the trees become stressed, they generate more efficient leaves that can more than compensate for water stress.

  • Studies have shown that there is increase in greenness in the Amazon basin at the end of the dry season, when both the soil and air is drier, and some have linked this to increases in photosynthesis.