[permaculture] A disaster to take everyone's breath away

Keith Johnson keithdj at mindspring.com
Wed Jul 25 12:50:46 EDT 2007


Amazon is drying up in 2nd year of drought.

"Studies by the blue-chip Woods Hole Research Centre, carried out in 
Amazonia, have concluded that the forest cannot withstand more than two 
consecutive years of drought without breaking down.

Scientists say that this would spread drought into the northern 
hemisphere and could massively accelerate global warming with 
incalculable consequences.

The research - carried out by the Massachusetts-based centre in Santarem 
on the Amazon River - has taken even the scientists conducting it by 

When Dr Dan Nepstead started the experiment in 2002 - by covering a 
chunk of rainforest the size of a football pitch with plastic panels to 
see how it would cope without rain - he surrounded it with sophisticated 
sensors, expecting to record only minor changes.

The trees managed the first year of drought without difficulty. In the 
second year, they sunk their roots deeper to find moisture, but 
survived. But in year three, they started dying. Beginning with the 
tallest the trees started to come crashing down, exposing the forest 
floor to the drying sun.

By the end of the year the trees had released more than two-thirds of 
the carbon dioxide they have stored during their lives, helping to act 
as a break on global warming. Instead they began accelerating the 
climate change.

The Amazon now appears to be entering its second successive year of 
drought, raising the possibility it could start dying next year. The 
immense forest contains 90 billion tons of carbon, enough in itself to 
increase the rate of global warming by 50 per cent.

Nepstead expects "mega-fires" rapidly to sweep across the drying jungle. 
With the trees gone, the soil will bake in the sun and the rainforest 
could become desert.

Deborah Clark from the University of Missouri, one of the world's top 
forest ecologists, says research shows "the lock has broken" on the 
Amazon ecosystem and the Amazon is "headed in a terrible direction".

Was this matter considered during the recent IPC?

Keith Johnson
"Be fruitful and mulch apply."
Permaculture Activist Magazine
PO Box 5516, Bloomington, IN 47408
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