Rainforests and savannas contain 70% of the world’s plants and are critical to the health of our planet. A new £1.6m international project involving researchers from the Leeds Earth and Biosphere Institute is looking at the impact of global warming on these sensitive areas.
The researchers think we may be at the start of a vicious cycle, where global warming causes the rainforests to shrink, so increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, raising the earth’s temperature and magnifying the impact on the rainforests.
Heading the work at Leeds is Professor of Earth System Science, Jon Lloyd: “The two major vegetation systems in the tropics are rainforest and savanna. As it gets warmer and drier the rainforest gets invaded by savanna, which has fewer trees and holds less carbon in the soil. Savanna also doesn’t recycle water in the same way as rainforest, so the carbon loss from the savanna is greater and the atmosphere becomes drier.”
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