Shifting Climatic Patterns Push Amazon Rainforest on Verge of Becoming a Savannah

It is no news that changing climatic patterns have reflected badly on the planet, leading to fluctuating rainfall models, extended droughts, flash floods and catastrophic wildfires. In 2019, the Amazon rainforest, which is home to 10 percent of all the animal species and considered the planet’s lungs, witnessed one of its most horrid wildfire seasons. This unique ecosystem lost much during those fires, while authorities vowed to make up for that loss.

Declining rainfall could turn Amazon into a savannah

Amazon Rainforest raging in fire / Image: Alamy Live News

It has been a year since, and a new study has discovered that 40 percent of the Amazon is at risk of turning into savannah owing to the shifting climatic patterns, especially the decreasing amount of rainfall. Much of the Amazon could be on the brink of losing its distinct nature and transforming from a closed canopy rainforest to an open savannah with far fewer trees as a result of the climate crisis.

Rainforests are very sensitive to rainfall and humidity changes, and fire and prolonged droughts can result in areas losing tree cover and shifting to a savannah-like mix of woodland and grassland. This change could disrupt the entire carbon-oxygen flow in and out of the forest area.

Also Read: Illegal deforestation Escalates in Brazil’s Rainforests Amid Pandemic

Scientists expected this change to occur, but thought it to be years away. According to the new research, published in the journal Nature Communications, this tipping point could be much closer than previously anticipated.

Declining rainfall could turn Amazon into a savannah

Illegal cutting of trees in the region / Image: Reuters

Authors of the study used satellite data, climate simulations and hydrological models to better understand the dynamics of rainfall across the tropics and their impacts on the stability of tropical forest ecosystems. These simulations indicate that the sustained high greenhouse gas emissions through the end of the century could shrink the size of the Amazon by 66 percent.

The rainforest has seen much disaster under the administration of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who (just like Mr. Trump) doesn’t believe in the threat that is the climate change. Last year, Mr. Bolsonaro was warned against the continued destruction of the Amazon by fire and illegal logging, but it didn’t yield any fruitful results, just the opposite.

Thanks to the persistent cutting of trees in the rainforest, this year’s fires in the Amazon are worst in a decade, with a 60 percent increase in fire hotspots compared to last year. If this careless attitude of the authorities persists, then it could result in complete destruction of one of the most important ecosystems of the planet.

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