Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Deforestation reduces rainfall in West African forests

19.09.2011
Cutting down forests to create cropland in the West African rainforest reduces precipitation over the rest of the forest, according to new research.

The study shows that West African rainforest deforestation reduces precipitation over neighboring trees by about 50 percent due to increased surface temperatures of croplands, which affect raincloud formation.

The authors say the findings have important implications for future decisions about land management in this region and other rainforests, including the Amazon.

"We already know from satellite observations that changes in land use can have a big impact on local weather patterns," says Luis Garcia-Carreras with the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment, lead author of the recent study. "Here we have been able to show why this happens."

"Our findings suggest that it's not just the number of trees removed that threatens the stability of the world's rainforests. The pattern of deforestation is also important."

Garcia-Carreras and his colleague present their new findings in an article accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The forests of West Africa and the Congo Basin are the second largest in the world after the Amazon rainforest. They serve not only as a habitat for a vast and diverse ecosystem but also as a carbon sink, removing a large proportion of the carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere and slowing down climate change.

For many years deforestation has been occurring widely in Africa, with tree canopies being removed for agriculture, plantations and other non-forest uses.

While the removal of trees has an immediate impact on the forest, this new study suggests that there also may be a secondary effect caused by the reduced rainfall.

"African rainforests already have the lowest rainfall of any rainforest ecosystem on Earth, which could make them particularly sensitive to changes in local weather patterns," Garcia-Carreras says. "If rainfall is reduced even further as a result of deforestation, it could threaten the survival of the remaining forest by increasing the trees' sensitivity to drought."

To investigate the effects of different vegetation on locally-produced rain in West Africa, the researchers used a Met Office computer model to simulate rainfall under different land-use conditions.

In rainforests where stands had been converted to cropland, the total amount of precipitation was largely unaffected, but the rainfall was distributed differently.

Rainfall was four to six times higher over warm areas (cropland) than when no deforestation has occurred, while rainfall over the remaining forest was half or less.

The difference in rainfall is caused by the temperature change between cropland and forest, which produces winds that converge over the crop area and form clouds.

And the results in West Africa could apply elsewhere, adds Doug Parker, a study co- author with the University of Leeds. "While our study only focused on a small region in Africa, it's reasonable to suggest that this mechanism could be common in other global forests based on similar observations of rainfall in Amazonia," he says.

"This has implications for planners in terms of how deforestation is managed. If forest must be removed to create cropland, we need to think about what are the shapes and distributions of deforestation that will be least damaging to the adjacent forests and national parks."

The research was funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council as part of the international African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis (AMMA).

Title:
"How Does Local Tropical Deforestation Affect Rainfall?"
Authors:
Luis Garcia-Carreras and Douglas J. Parker: Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.
Contact information for the authors:
Luis Garcia-Carreras, Leeds research fellow: +44 113 3434931, L.Garcia- Carreras@leeds.ac.uk

Kate Ramsayer | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>