Tragic route of climate change extends from Amazon to Tibet

Warmer temperatures in Amazon correlates with rising temperatures in Tibet and the West Antarctic ice sheet.

When the trees in the Amazon are cut down, it affects not only the region, its plants animals, and the people, but it changes the climate world over. According to Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, the deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon was at 11,568 square kilometers for the year ended on July 31, 2022, an 11% drop from the last year.

Amazon forest lost 13,000 square kilometers in 2021, the highest level in 15 years. Despite the apparent drop in deforestation, the forecast for the Amazon is increasingly threatening.

Researchers warn about the potential for deforestation, forest degradation, and warming climate to trigger a ‘tipping point’ where large strips of the Amazon convert from rainforest to a drier savanna-like ecosystem. More data from studies conducted in 2022 suggest that the tipping may be fast approaching for parts of the Amazon.

Amazon deforestation influencing weather in Tibet

The Amazon rain forest absorbed one-fourth of the CO2 absorbed by all the land on Earth. The amount absorbed today, however, is 30% less than it was in the 1990s due to deforestation. A research paper published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change; scientists warned about a possible long-range impact of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

They found evidence suggesting that deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is influencing weather in Tibet, more than 15,000 kilometers away.

Valerie Livina, from the U.K.’s National Physical Laboratory, explained the Hopf bifurcation theory and how it relates to climate tipping points with respect to the Amazon rain forest. Being one of the world’s tipping points, small, gradual changes can eventually lead to a large, sudden, permanent change in the Amazon.

Tracing the climate change route

Once it is close to the tipping point, scientists believe the rainforest cannot be returned to its natural state, even if all of the cutting was stopped and the trees replanted. On analysing global climate data covering the years from 1979 to 2019, scientists were surprised to find that due to tree loss, warmer temperatures in the Amazon correlated with rising temperatures in Tibet and the West Antarctic ice sheet.

The researchers were able to trace the route of climate change and its approximate path, they saw, could be charted first to southern Africa, and then to the Arabian Peninsula and finally over to the Tibet.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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