Parts of the Amazon Switch from Absorbing Carbon Dioxide to Emitting it


The ability to “rebuild the margin of safety” through reforestation is very real and can help restore trees’ role in producing moisture in forests, he said. “I don’t think you can restore it, but you can certainly cure it,” he said.

Forests are a critical part of the region’s water cycle; By some estimates, moisture from trees is responsible for as much as 35 percent of precipitation in the region.

By managing forests with carbon sequestration, hydrology and biodiversity in mind, “you get multiple benefits,” he said. Referring to the changes at Amazon, “Due to the widespread use of fire and climate change, 30 years ago it came much sooner than anyone thought. But put some water in it and it will change.”

Any change may take a long time and face political opposition. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro oversaw the rapidly increasing deforestation in the Amazon. The government, under increasing pressure, has recently announced plans to counter this trend., but spikes in deforestation continued.

Scott Denning, a professor in the department of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, wrote in an accompanying article for the journal Nature that the paper’s “atmospheric profiles indicate that the uncertain future is occurring now.”

In an emailed response to questions, Dr. Denning lauded the new study as the first truly large-scale measurement of the phenomenon from various altitudes across thousands of kilometers and distant sectors, an advance beyond traditional measurement in forest areas. The results wrote that “warming and deforestation in eastern Amazonia is reversing the carbon sink at the regional scale, and the change is actually occurring in atmospheric CO2.”

Research flights can be tiring. Dr. Gatti said he took Dramamine before the fights, but a colleague refused to board the plane, saying his wife was pregnant and it was “too risky”. “I have two kids!” he replied.


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