Drought, Deforestation Set to Propel Vicious Amazon Die Off
Researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research believe that this process, known as self-amplifying forest loss, could cause a vicious circle of drought and further forest loss across the Amazon region, according to a study published in Nature Communications.
"And humankind is imposing massive perturbations on Amazonia by both cutting down the trees and heating up the air with greenhouse gases."
This, Barbosa explained, has the effect of reducing large-scale moisture transportation and rainfall.
Researchers at the Postdam Institute worry that another logging spike could push the Amazon into a vicious dieback cycle that would include hotter dry seasons, more forest loss, and continued drought.
They estimate that in addition to direct forest loss due to reduced rainfall, 10 percent of the forest could be lost due to the effects of self-amplification.
This forest–atmosphere feedback cycle could cause forest dieback in 38 percent of the Amazon basin.
Combined with the direct effects of drought, this could mean that most of the Amazon would eventually be at risk.
"Projected rainfall changes for the end of the 21st century will not lead to complete Amazon dieback," Carl Schleussner, from Berlin-based scientific think tank Climate Analytics and PIK, said.
As the Cerrado is deforested and less water is cycled back into the atmosphere, rainfall has dropped.
"Since every species has a different way of reacting to stress, having a great variety of them can be a means for ecosystem resilience," co-author Marina Hirota from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, said.