The science is clear: Forest loss behind Brazil’s drought

Louis Verchot – Forests News, 1/29/2015

The role of tropical deforestation in global climate change has been the subject of much international discussion and debate in the media and in policy forums like the UN Climate Change Convention. However, the role of deforestation in local climate change has received much less attention.

Now, with southern Brazil suffering from unprecedented drought, attention is turning toward more localized impacts of deforestation. Dr. Antonio Nobre, a scientist at the Brazilian National Space Research Institute, released a report, “The Future Climate of Amazonia,” that linked the current drought to deforestation in the Amazon Basin. Politicians are questioning these conclusions. What does the science say?

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TREES, RAINFALL?

In 2009, CIFOR scientists Douglas Sheil and Daniel Murdiyarso summarized the scientific understanding of the relationship between forests and rainfall in an article in BioScience. At the time, the link between deforestation and declining rainfall was still uncertain. There were indications in the scientific literature that deforestation disrupted cloud formation and accentuated rainfall seasonality in areas that have distinct wet and dry seasons.

Read more…

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