Date of this Version
Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2022
The Amazon has been faced with extensive deforestation beginning in the 1960’s mainly for the purpose of cattle ranching and agriculture, as well as logging and mining making up smaller but noticeable portions. This rainforest is a place rich in its biodiversity of plants and animals, and until recently it was also one of the planet’s largest natural carbon sinks. This is important to help offset anthropogenic carbon emissions that are accelerating climate change, but because of the land use changes it has been subjected to, it has become another source of carbon release. This study aims to determine what the climatic repercussions are of losing significant portions of the Amazon, as well as predicting what will happen to the Amazon if the 20-25% forest loss tipping point is crossed. This meta-analysis explores the connection between the deforestation taking place in the Amazon Rainforest and how it correlates to changes in the local climate of the area. This was done by reviewing previous studies on Amazonian deforestation, temperature, precipitation, evapotranspiration, carbon emission and sequestration rates and trends; as well as models showing what the future will look like if current rates are continued. Current results show a 25% decrease in the water recycling rate, a 0.25-degree Celsius increase per decade, a 20-25% decrease in precipitation and a 30% decrease in evapotranspiration. These factors cause a longer dry season which creates a positive feedback loop, causing conditions to continue to get drier each year. The forest is expected to reach the tipping point in 10-15 years, which will cause it to die out and convert to a savannah. If it is lost it will result in more significant temperature rises in the area and release enough carbon to be seen on a global scale. The tipping point is determined to be when the Amazon does not have enough rainfall to sustain itself, meaning that once this point is reached it cannot be reversed.