Global warming may be interacting with regional precipitation and deforestation to accelerate forest loss in the Amazon and push it toward partial or complete destruction.

The research was published today. [14 February 2024] I The naturehave identified the potential limits of these stressors, indicating where their combined effects can produce a ‘tipping point’ — at which the forest is so fragile that only a small disturbance of the ecosystem Can cause a sudden change in condition.

The research was led by Brazil’s Federal University of Santa Catarina, and included experts from the University of Birmingham. Its authors hope that by understanding the most important pressures on rainforest ecosystems, they can develop a way to keep the Amazon forest resilient.

Lead author Bernardo Flores of the University of Santa Catarina said: “Compounding disturbances are becoming increasingly common in the core of the Amazon. If these disturbances work synergistically, we could observe unexpected environmental changes in these regions.” can grow that were previously thought to be resilient, such as the moist forests of the western and central Amazon.”

These ecosystem changes may include a forest that may be able to recover but is still stuck in a degraded state and dominated by opportunistic plants such as bamboo and vines, or a forest that cannot recover and Remains trapped in an open canopy, flammable condition.

The research findings are important because of the important role of the Amazon in the global climate system. For example, Amazonian trees store large amounts of carbon that, if released, could accelerate global warming. The Amazon was shown to temporarily act as a carbon sink during the 2015 drought.

Co-author Dr Adrian Esquivel-Molbert, from the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, said: “We have evidence showing how rising temperatures, extreme drought and fire can affect forest function. And it can change which species of trees can integrate forest systems. As global change accelerates, it is increasingly likely that we will see positive feedback loops in which forests, rather than self-healing. The damage is self-reinforcing.”

The study also examined the role of biodiversity and local communities in shaping Amazonian forest resilience. They argue that a successful approach will depend on a combination of local and global efforts. This will include cooperation among Amazonian countries to end deforestation and increase restoration, while global efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions reduce the effects of climate change.

During the recent COP28 climate conference, the team published a set of policy briefs outlining actions that local, regional and global organizations need to take to prevent the Amazon from reaching a tipping point.