Amazon May Be a Carbon Source

Deforestation and Climate Change Feedbacks Set In
The Amazon rainforest region is suffering a severe drought highly likely to have been caused or at least exacerbated by rainforest loss and climate change. This is a very severe drought, with water levels in some Amazon tributaries up to 15 meters lower than usual. In response, the Brazilian government has declared parts of the Amazon River a disaster area. Dry spells in the Amazon occur regularly, and are believed to be tied to cycles in water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean which affect the quantity of rainfall in rainforests. This year the Atlantic Ocean's waters are warmer as the result of climate change, the same phenomenon that intensified recent hurricanes, and this is contributing to the severity of this drought. The common practice of using fires to clear land of forests and brush is also aggravating the dry spell.


The Amazon is well on its way to being a net carbon source rather than sink, if it is not already. Feedbacks are intensifying this crisis as logging, forest burning and climate change cause forest loss, which releases carbon dioxide, which results in climate change that in turn causes more forest burning and greater carbon release. The Amazon continued existence as a foundation of the operation of the global ecological system is threatened. While scientists quoted in these articles are careful to not blame the drought on global warming and deforestation, there clearly is overwhelming science to support this assertion.
Given that there is only one Amazon to be saved or lost, it is a matter of prudence to act now rather than when it is certain deforestation and climate are destroying this massive rainforest, and the Earth spirals towards unavoidable ecosystem collapse. In past weeks we have witnessed the melting of Arctic ice, loss of American cities from monster hurricanes and now the Amazon is threatened. Rainforest loss is a major cause of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere which is causing these climate change impacts. How much more evidence do we need that climate change and rainforest loss are happening now with deadly consequences?

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3 Responses

  1. Noel Ryan says:

    Just one clarification. About a 1000 million tonnes of CO2 emissions comes from deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon alone most of that from direct human intervention ie deforestation for agriculture. So ending deforestation in that one country will reduce the emissions equal to 3% of global human induced emissions making it very likely that the Brazilian amazon would become sink again or at least a source of 1000mtCO2 less than it would be otherwise due to indirect human induced climate change or periodic drought.
    Cheers
    Noel Ryan

  2. Dr. Nigel Miles says:

    Hi Glen,
    Regarding the quantities of carbon released in Amazonia circa 2003-4, Noel is correct about his quantifiable figures as many references would support those he states. However I feel that he is slightly underestimating its percentage contribution to total carbon pollution to the global atmosphere, especially if total carbon emittance is about 8 billion tonnes per annum. This is much greater than the 3% as he quoted; nearer 12% which is a much more formidable figure and one of direct concern to the biosphere as a whole.

  3. Carbon Sinks says:

    Carbon Sinks

    Human effort to sequester more carbonsay, by growing more treesis one way that countries can hold down the level of…

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