The study, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contends state and federal governments in Brazil have created a sustainable core of protected areas within the Amazon. And even if the remaining Brazilian Amazon is deforested, the climate will not significantly change – thereby protecting the Amazon's ecosystems.
"The thought has been that if you deforest up to a certain point in the Amazon, the forest will completely lose the ability to recover its tropical vegetation – that you will basically convert it to a desert, especially in the south and southeastern margins of the basin," said Robert Walker, MSU professor of geography and lead researcher on the project.
"But our research shows that if you protect certain areas of the Amazon, as the Brazilian government is currently doing, the forest will not reach a tipping point, which means we can maintain the climate with levels of deforestation beyond which was originally thought."
Roughly the size of the 48 contiguous states, the Amazon River Basin is home to the world's largest rainforest, most of it in Brazil, and is the largest freshwater source on Earth. The Amazon is made up of a wide variety of exotic plant and animal life, including macaws, jaguars, anteaters and anacondas.
In Brazil, the government has set aside about 37 percent of the Amazon basin as protected area, Walker said.
Meanwhile, about 17 percent of the Brazilian Amazon has been deforested since the opening of the basin to development in the mid-1960s, he said.
Critics warn the Amazon is close to a tipping point in which the continued stripping of forests will stem rainfall and turn the tropical region into scrubland. Because trees pull moisture from the ground and release it back into the atmosphere, leading to rainfall, cutting them down threatens this "vegetative recycling" process, Walker said.
Walker and fellow researchers from Brazil and the United States conducted three years of atmospheric computer modeling on the region. Their study assumed the worst-case scenario – that all of the Brazilian Amazon not protected by the government would be deforested.
Even under this scenario, their findings indicate rainfall levels would not decrease to the point of changing the landscape and harming the ecosystems within the protected areas.
"Some people think the tipping point is going to occur at 30 percent to 40 percent deforestation," Walker said. "Our results suggest this is not the case; that you can have quite a bit of deforestation – perhaps up to 60 percent – before you get to the crash point."
The study also assumes the government-protected forests would not be altered beyond their current condition.
The research was supported by a grant from NASA and conducted under the auspices of the Large-scale Biosphere/Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia, an international project led by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology.
Joining Walker on the research team were Nathan Moore, Cynthia Simmons and Dante Vergara from MSU, and researchers from the University of Florida, Kansas State University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York and the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil.
Andy Henion | EurekAlert!
Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF
Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering