What do the Amazon Basin and Sahara Desert have in common? They are intricately linked by dust and climate and both belong to a family of hotspots or “Achilles’ heels” that have a profound impact on the global environment, says Professor John Schellnhuber, speaking at the EuroScience Forum in Stockholm today.
Dust from the Sahara Desert fertilises the Amazon, increasing the abundance of life there, says Professor Schellnhuber, IGBP* Science Ambassador and Director of the UK-based Tyndall Climate Centre. “This process has been going on for thousands of years and is one reason why the Amazon Basin teems with life”.
Both regions are also being affected by climate change, though in opposite ways. It is predicted that global warming will reduce rainfall in the region initiating a major dieback of the forests in the Amazon. Once begun, this process will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reverse. Deforestation through human land use will exacerbate the situation.
Susannah Eliott | alfa
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