Science

There is a 50% probability of Amazon rainforest turning into barren savannah

There is a 50% probability of Amazon rainforest turning into barren savannah

Amazon rainforest is one of the world’s densest forest ecosystem in the world. It consumes about a quarter of the total carbon dioxide produced in the world which makes it a standalone forest that sustains life of thousands of species of animals and plants. But, the gradually growing rate of deforestation will soon discourage the rainforest from sustaining millions of lives that it supports. According to a team of researchers, Amazon forest might reach its tipping point soon if no human intervention takes place which will reversibly change the dense rainforest into an arid and barren savannah.

A group of researchers calculated the tipping point which is the value beyond which, the situation generally worsens is around 20%. If it crosses the tipping point, the Amazon rainforest might cease to exist with its water cycle cut off and will soon transform into a barren savannah. The team studied the extent of deforestation in the forest and also, the extent to which it will finally hamper its own water cycle. This will have catastrophic results since the forest won’t be able to support its own ecosystems if the water supply reduces drastically.

The study is led by Thomas E Lovejoy who is a professor at George Mason University in the department of environmental science and policy and Carlos Nobre, a member of World Resources Institute and Brazilian Academy of Science. The duo confirmed that if the deforestation continues along with the environmental problems like climate change and global warming, there is 50% probability that the forest will transform into a barren savannah and no matter how much efforts humans put in, it couldn’t be reversed. As per the study, the forest has already reached 17% of deforestation in the past 50 years which leaves only 3% before it reaches the said tipping point.

The study published in journal Science Advances stated that negative impacts of synergies between climate change, use of fire, and deforestation are few of the environmental issues that will cause deforestation by 20% to 25% in central, southern, and eastern Amazonia. Adding to these calamities, frequent floods and droughts have affected the region adversely causing the whole ecosystem to wobble and oscillate. The study also highlighted the impact of the disrupted water cycle in the South American region which will disturb the human population there. Finally, the scientists stated that the only solution to bring down the deforestation rate or slow it down before it reaches its tipping point is through humans intervention.

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