Photo: Deforestation in the Amazon Basin Could Cause a Severe Drop in Rainfall
A researcher from the University of Leeds and his team recently used satellite data of rainfall patterns and satellite data to create a computer model to show how deforestation may cause a disastrous drop in rainfall at the Amazonian basin.
Researcher Dominick Spracklen and his team found rainfall across the basin could drop by 12 percent in the wet season and an even more startling 21 percent in the dry seasons by 2050 “due to less-efficient moisture recycling” caused by deforestation.
To put it simply, trees release moisture into the air by a process called evapotranspiration, which is the transport of water into the atmosphere from surfaces which include soil and vegetation. This process is what keeps the air over forests more moist than other areas.
On Wednesday, the study was published in Nature an international weekly science journal.
The study explains:
Vegetation affects precipitation patterns by mediating moisture, energy and trace-gas fluxes between the surface and atmosphere1. When forests are replaced by pasture or crops, evapotranspiration of moisture from soil and vegetation is often diminished, leading to reduced atmospheric humidity and potentially suppressing precipitation. Climate models predict that large-scale tropical deforestation causes reduced precipitation.
Such a reduction in precipitation may have consequences for the future of remaining Amazonian forests and for rainfall-reliant industries both within and outside the Amazon basin, including agriculture and hydroelectric power generation, which contribute substantially to South American economies.