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The Amazon rainforest is facing a barrage of pressures that could tip it toward a large-scale ecosystem collapse as early as 2050, according to new research Wednesday warning of dire consequences for the region and the world.

The Amazon, home to more than 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity, helps stabilize the global climate by storing the equivalent of nearly two decades of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions.

But pressures from deforestation, drought, fires and rising temperatures have eroded the Amazon’s forests’ ability to withstand shocks, triggering a so-called “tipping point,” scientists warn. , which could lead to an irreversible transition of critical ecosystems in the coming decades.

In the latest study, published in the journal The natureAn international group of scientists has estimated that between 10 and 47 percent of the Amazon will be under stress by 2050, which could lead to widespread ecosystem change.

This can cause critical ecosystems to stop absorbing or even release the carbon they have stored, furthering global warming and accelerating its effects.

“We’re approaching a potential large-scale tipping point, and maybe we’re even closer (at the local scale and system-wide),” said lead author Bernardo Flores of the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Florianopolis. That’s what we thought before.” , Brazil.

‘White Sand Savannah’

The researchers used information from computer models, observations and evidence of changes dating back thousands of years to map the complexity of forest systems and identify key causes of stress.

They then analyzed these stressors – including global warming, Length of the dry season and deforestation—to see how these might work individually or together to cause feedback loops that could trigger a mass extinction.

He said the Amazon could face unprecedented levels of water stress by 2050.

Previous research has suggested that global warming – which has warmed the Earth’s surface on average by 1.2C above pre-industrial levels – could automatically push the Amazon into a savanna-like state.

The latest study suggests its fate may be more complicated than that.

While some areas may turn into “white sand savannas,” which are already spreading across the Amazon after wildfires, other areas of the Amazon will see dense coverage of fire-tolerant trees interspersed with invasive grasses. can

Wetlands can remain as degraded forest, with fewer tree species and a higher proportion of fast-growing plants such as bamboo.

“We have evidence that shows how rising temperatures, extreme drought and fire can affect forest function and What tree species can integrate forest systems,”

A global concern

In recent months, the Amazon region of Swat has been gripped by a brutal drought that has dried up key waterways, dried up crops and fueled wildfires.

Scientists from the World Weather Attribution Group have said that the historic dry spell was primarily caused by climate change, rather than the naturally occurring El Nino weather phenomenon.

Flores said the severe drought predicts expected climate conditions for the region in the early 2030s.

“A lot of rivers dried up completely, leaving local and indigenous people isolated for months, lacking food and water. I never imagined that people would be in the Amazon,” he told AFP. There will be water scarcity.”

Terrestrial ecosystems around the world have been an important ally as the world struggles to curb CO.2 Emissions, with plants and soil absorbing large amounts of carbon.

But it is in danger and scientists already fear that parts of the Amazon have shifted from a “sink” to a “source” of CO.2.

This will likely come into sharper focus next year, when Brazil hosts a key round of international climate talks.

Flores emphasized that the fate of the rainforest—and the implications of forest loss—is a global concern.

Even if Amazonian countries commit to reducing deforestation and reach that goal in the coming decades, the huge effort could be wasted if the world doesn’t rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said. does not commit to

More information:
Bernardo Flores, Major Changes in the Forest System of the Amazon, The nature (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06970-0. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06970-0

© 2024 AFP

Reference: Amazon Rainforest May Face Tipping Point by 2050: Study (2024, February 17) Retrieved February 18, 2024, from https://phys.org/news/2024-02-amazon-rainforest.html

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