The Amazon basin, one of the planet’s largest stores of carbon, is beginning to release more carbon-dioxide to the atmosphere than it absorbs as deforestation and fires spread, potentially accelerating global warming.
An international research team confirmed the shift in emissions using 590 aircraft surveys that captured changing CO2 and carbon monoxide levels in the lower troposphere above four Amazonia sites between 2010 and 2018. The results were published in the journal Nature on Thursday.
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The sites were able to capture changes across the basin, which is home to the world’s largest expanse of tropical rainforest. Over the nine years, the region was found to be releasing about 410 million tonnes of carbon a year from fires, with only about 120 million tonnes of that being removed by the region’s plants.
“This means that, although the forest is still taking up an enormous amount of carbon from the atmosphere, it is acting as a source,” said Lucas Gatti Domingues, a carbon cycle scientist and one of the paper’s co-authors.
“The more we see changes on the temperature, and on the precipitation cycle, the more we are likely to see increased natural fires and trees mortality, which enhances deforestation. This creates a cycle which is leading the forest to extreme stress, mainly on its eastern region.”
Source: The Age