Amazon at Climate Caused Desert Tipping Point
New research by the highly respected Woods Hole Research Centre reported upon in the UK's Independent has concluded that the vast Amazon rainforest is on the brink of becoming a desert, with catastrophic consequences for the world's climate. They predict the Amazon rainforest (search) cannot withstand more than two consecutive years of drought without “mega-fires” sweeping across the drying jungle, destroying healthy rainforest ecosystems, and resultant denuded soil baking in the sun ultimately becoming a desert. The Amazon is now entering its second successive year of climate change intensified drought, making it likely that widespread forest die-back will start soon. The Amazon rainforests contain 90 billion tons of carbon, enough to increase the rate of global warming by 50 percent.
Long predicted climate change impacts such as intensified hurricanes, heatwaves and extreme droughts are already evident. This scenario of climate change destroying already human-diminished Amazonian ecosystems is a long feared positive feedback nightmare that would cause even further warming and drought. This positive feedback along with others such as melting permafrost and release of ocean methane may dramatically intensify climate changes leading to abrupt, run-away atmospheric collapse that makes much of the Earth uninhabitable and destroys civilization as we know it.