The Amazon could go from CO2 vacuum cleaner to emitting pollutant gas



Fires caused by climate change in the Amazon could convert that region from a carbon dioxide aspirator to a net emitter of these gases, which contributes to the warming of the atmosphere, according to a study published Friday by the journal Science Advances.

The study, headed by Paulo Brando, from the Department of Land Systems of the University of California, had the collaboration of the Amazon Research Institute in Brasilia, the Geosciences Institute of the University of Minas Gerais and the Goddard Flight Center NASA space.

"Forest fires triggered by an increasingly hot and dry climate can double the burned area and devastate up to 16% of the tropical rainforest in the southern Brazilian Amazon by 2050, so that region could lose its receptor function net of CO2 in a net source of carbon dioxide, the article said.

Gas emissions that cause the "greenhouse effect" and accumulate in the atmosphere can lead the Amazon to a new state of low biomass, which will alter rainfall and temperature regimes in the region, he added.

Forest fires in the Amazon will continue to intensify before 2030, and by mid-century the region will be emitting about 17,000 million tons of CO2 and will no longer be an area of ​​the planet that absorbs more greenhouse gases than it eliminates.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon decreased by 70% between 2004 and 2014, which, according to these researchers, avoided the equivalent of 12% of annual global CO2 emissions, which is the main cause of climate change.

In the same period, emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that contribute to atmospheric warming associated with fires accelerated, the study added.

"The interactions between agricultural activities, illegal fires and extreme weather events intensified the recurrence of fires in the Amazon and their emissions," the article continued.

In the 2000s alone, the fires ended with 85,000 square kilometers of primary forests in the Amazon, mainly during the droughts of 2005 and 2010.

In 2015, the central Amazon experienced a similar increase in fires during another period of severe droughts caused by the anomalous warming of El Niño and the tropical system in the North Atlantic.

According to the National Space Research Institute (INPE), of Brazil, in June and July, satellite observations showed that the smoke from the fires obscured the city of Sao Paulo, thousands of kilometers from the Amazon.

At the end of August, INPE reported more than 80,000 fires throughout Brazil, a 77% increase over the previous year, with more than 40,000 of those fires in the Brazilian Amazon, which occupies 60% of the entire Amazon region , while similar situations occurred in Amazonian areas of Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay.

For their study, Brando and his colleagues developed a model on how the interactions between climate change and deforestation in a region of 192 million acres within the driest region of the Brazilian Amazon affected the amount of land burned and the gases released as a result of the fires.

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