The Amazon plays a fundamental role in absorbing carbon dioxide; However, the southeast of the world’s largest tropical forest has begun to emit more CO2 than it absorbs, according to a study published this Thursday by the magazine Nature.
70% of the fires in the Brazilian Amazon occur in areas of livestock exploitation of meat companies
Factors such as human-induced deforestation and climate change appear to influence the Amazon’s ability to act as a sink for CO2 and have altered the local balance of carbon gases, which is indicative of the health of an ecosystem, suggests the research led by Brazilian scientists.
The southeast of the Amazon is the most affected area, having gone from being a sink to becoming an important source of carbon during the study period, between 2010 and 2018, says the study led by Luciana Gatti, from the National Research Institute Space (Brazil).
More in the east than in the west
Experts have further observed that total carbon emissions are higher in the eastern Amazon than in the western Amazon, primarily as a result of spatial differences in carbon-monoxide emissions from fires.
In the last 40 years, the eastern part of the Amazon has suffered more deforestation, warming and water stress than the western part, especially during the dry season, with the southeast experiencing the strongest trends.
The authors consider that the stress inflicted on local ecosystems and the increase in fires – promoted by the intensification of the dry season and the increase in deforestation – may be responsible for the higher carbon emissions in the east.
The team has analyzed the concentrations of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the troposphere – the lowest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere – over the Brazilian Amazon between 2010 and 2018.
Research results may help, according to the authors, to better contextualize the long-term impacts of interactions between climate and human disturbances on the carbon balance of the world’s largest tropical forest.
By revealing an association between deforestation and climate change across the Amazon, the study suggests that these interactions can have long-lasting and negative consequences for both the region’s carbon balance and the fragility of its ecosystems.