84 Deforestation Effects on Amazon Forest Resilience

Monday, 13 January 2020
Hall B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Henrique de Melo Jorge Barbosa, Univ. of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil; and D. C. Zemp, C. F. Schleussner, and A. Rammig

Through vegetation-atmosphere feedbacks, rainfall reductions as a result of Amazon deforestation could reduce the resilience on the remaining forest to perturbations and potentially lead to large-scale Amazon forest loss. We track observation-based water fluxes from sources (evapotranspiration) to sinks (rainfall) to assess the effect of deforestation on continental rainfall. By studying 21st century deforestation scenarios, we show that deforestation can reduce dry season rainfall by up to 20% far from the deforested area, namely, over the western Amazon basin and the La Plata basin. As a consequence, forest resilience is systematically eroded in the southwestern region covering a quarter of the current Amazon forest. Our findings suggest that the climatological effects of deforestation can lead to permanent forest loss in this region. We identify hot spot regions where forest loss should be avoided to maintain the ecological integrity of the Amazon forest.
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