This study was published in the Journal of Medical Screening.
About three-quarters of the forest’s ability to recover from disruption has declined since the early 2000s, which scientists see as a warning sign. The new evidence comes from advanced statistical analysis of satellite data on changes in vegetation biomass and productivity.
“Decreased resilience – the ability to recover from disruptions such as drought or fire – could mean an increased risk of death in the Amazon rainforest. The fact that we’re seeing the resilience of the findings deteriorating is worrying,” he said. Niklas Boers From the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Technical University of Munich, who conducted the study together with researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK.
“The Amazon rainforest is home to unique biodiversity, it strongly influences rainfall throughout South America through its enormous evaporation and stores huge amounts of carbon that could be released as greenhouse gases even in the event of partial extinction. In turn, contributing to global warming,” Boers explained. “That’s why the rainforest is of global importance,” he added.
Amazon has been considered a potential tipping element in the Earth’s system, and several studies have revealed its vulnerability. “However, its future computer simulation studies provide quite a range of results,” Boers said.
“We have therefore studied specific observational data on changes in resilience in recent decades. We see rainforest resilience continuing to decline since the early 2000s, but we cannot say when a possible transition from rainforest to Savannah may occur. It would probably be too late to stop it,” he said. added.
A working group from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter used stability indicators that had previously been applied to the Greenland ice sheet and the Atlantic collapse cycle. These statistical indicators are intended to predict the system’s approach to abrupt change by identifying a critical slowdown in system dynamics, such as the response to weather variations.
Analysis of two satellite data sets representing biomass and forest greenery revealed a critical deceleration. This critical deceleration can be seen as a weakening of the recovery forces that usually bring the system back to equilibrium after a failure.
While the system may appear stable if we look only at its average state, a closer look at the data using innovative statistical methods may reveal a deterioration in sustainability, ”said Chris Boulton of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.
“Previous studies based on computer simulations have shown that large parts of Amazon can commit death before showing a strong change in the average state. Our observational analysis now shows that in many areas, destabilization does indeed appear to be already underway,” he added.
In an attempt to find out the reasons for the decline in resilience that researchers find in the data, they study the relationship to rainfall in a particular region of the Amazon, culminating in three “once a century” drought events in the region. Drier areas are more dangerous than wetter areas. “This is alarming because IPCC models predict an overall drought in the Amazon in response to man-made global warming,” Boers said.
Another factor is the distance of the area to roads and settlements from which people have access to the forest. The data confirm that areas close to human land use are under threat.
“Our new analysis of empirical data will provide further evidence of forest sustainability concerns, especially in the near future,” said Tim LentonDirector of the Global Systems Institute.
“It confirms that a strong reduction in logging, but also a restriction on global greenhouse gas emissions, is necessary to protect Amazon,” he concluded.
Source: The Nordic Page