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Amazon Drought Caused Huge Carbon Emissions

March 11, 2011 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Laurie David for this article.  See http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/news/amazon-drought-caused-huge-carbon-emissions/

Amazon Drought Caused Huge Carbon Emissions

By Stuart Grudgings (Reuters) – February 8, 2011

A widespread drought in the Amazon rain forest last year was worse than the “once-in-a-century” dry spell in 2005 and may have a bigger impact on global warming than the United States does in a year, British and Brazilian scientists said on Thursday.

More frequent severe droughts like those in 2005 and 2010 risk turning the world’s largest rain forest from a sponge that absorbs carbon emissions into a source of the gases, accelerating global warming, the report found.

Trees and other vegetation in the world’s forests soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow, helping cool the planet, but release it when they die and rot.

“If events like this happen more often, the Amazon rain forest would reach a point where it shifts from being a valuable carbon sink slowing climate change to a major source of greenhouse gases that could speed it up,” said lead author Simon Lewis, an ecologist at the University of Leeds.

The study, published in the journal Science, found that last year’s drought caused rainfall shortages over a 1.16 million square-mile (3 million square km) expanse of the forest, compared with 734,000 square miles (1.9 million square km) in the 2005 drought.

It was also more intense, causing higher tree mortality and having three major epicenters, whereas the 2005 drought was mainly focused in the southwestern Amazon.

As a result, the study predicted the Amazon forest would not absorb its usual 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in both 2010 and 2011.

To read the full article, click here: http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/news/amazon-drought-caused-huge-carbon-emissions/


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