Findings from the nearly decade-long research project, published Wednesday in the journal Nature , suggest that deforestation and fire, among other factors, have dramatically undercut the Amazon’s ability to absorb heat-trapping carbon emissions from the atmosphere.
Researchers who routinely tested the atmosphere at four areas in Amazonia twice a month over a nine-year period found that not only are carbon emissions higher in the eastern areas of the rainforest than in the western areas, but that the southeastern area is putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it absorbs. The eastern Amazon is a hotspot of deforestation to facilitate logging and agriculture, including cattle ranches.
In addition to deforestation and fires, the study says the rise in emissions from the Amazon has been accelerated by warming temperatures and “moisture stress” during the dry season. The eastern areas have less moisture than the west during already-difficult dry periods, which now have become drier and have lasted longer due to climate change.
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