How Deforestation Is Pushing The Amazon Toward A Tipping purpose

Scientists have long feared that climate change and deforestation could push the Amazon rainforest to a "tipping point".

How Deforestation Is Pushing The Amazon Toward A Tipping purpose

The Amazon rainforest may be close to the tipping point of rainforest extinction - the point where rainforests will turn into savannah - with signs of resilience found in more than 75% of their area since the early 2000s, according to observational data presented in Climate Change nature. Some scientists fear that if enough of Brazil's Amazon rainforest is destroyed, it could cross the point of no return, dry up and become a savannah within a few decades.   


The Amazon rainforest may lose its ability to recover from extreme events such as droughts or fires, threatening to become a dry savanna-like ecosystem. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has increased to more than three football fields a minute, bringing the world's largest rainforest closer to a point of no return from which it cannot recover, according to the latest government data.    

While the depletion of the Amazon is uncertain, the tipping point is probably not yet reached and the depletion of the Amazon will not cause a sudden climate catastrophe, which does not detract from the importance of the Amazon rainforest to the Earth. Although it has not yet reached the breaking point, deforestation and climate change have likely already pushed the Amazon towards becoming a global carbon source rather than a carbon sink. We now know that, in addition to deforestation, the widespread use of fire and climate change are pushing the Amazon towards this tipping point.    

Climate models have previously predicted that a tipping point based solely on complete deforestation will be reached when 40% of the entire Amazon is deforested. What we know today is that if we only had deforestation - [with] zero climate change - then if you were to exceed 40% of the total Amazon deforested area, you would be at a tipping point. Climate patterns associated with real biome changes are leading scientists to predict that, unless immediate action is taken, 50 to 70 percent of the Amazon will change from rainforest to savannah in less than 50 years.    

In an interview with e360 Yale Environment 360, Carlos Nobre speaks of an alarming tipping point where the combination of deforestation and climate change will turn much of the Amazon into a savannah ecosystem, with detrimental effects on the global climate system. Raised, it only provides a glimpse of a broader pattern of forest degradation that portends irreversible climate change with potentially global implications, the so-called tipping point. The study adds to a growing body of research that predicts that the world's largest rainforest will reach a point where it will rapidly transform into a different and drier ecosystem, though the timing of this "tipping point" remains uncertain, and whether even the rainforest will cover everything is up for debate. 


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