The Amazon Rainforest has long been held to be a “tipping point” in the Earth’s ecosystem. Due to its sheer enormity, the rainforest can produce its own rainfall and consequently has an important impact on the world’s climate.
Now a new study released by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, has found that much of the Amazon is facing a death spiral of deforestation and drought over the next century. Projected reductions in rainfall mean that large areas of the forest are “certainly at risk” of being lost.
The study by the Potsdam Institute examined what would happen if the current dry seasons were to intensify in the rainforest. What they found was that there is a “feedback loop” where reduced rain would led to less trees, which in turn would reduce the rainfall produced by the rainforest.
Dr Delphine Clara Zemp who was one of the researchers behind the study, explained this cycle, “We already know that on the one hand, reduced rainfall increases the risk of forest dieback, and on the other hand, forest loss can intensify regional droughts,” she told The Independent. “Our study provides new insight into this issue, highlighting the risk of self-amplifying forest loss which comes on top of the forest loss directly caused by the rainfall reduction.”
The main threats to the Amazon are deforestation due to the logging and agriculture industries, along with the effects of climate change. All of these issues will need to be addressed in order to mitigate the projected impact on the rainforest.
Last year, Norway was the first country in the world to ban deforestation and pledged to ban any product in its supply chain that contributes to the deforestation of rainforests. It is clear that similar practices need to be adopted around the world.