Drought isn’t something that people generally think about when considering the Amazon rainforest, primarily because the name “rainforest” evokes the image of never ending precipitation. However, this is unfortunately not the case as was proven by the devastating drought that hit the Amazon basin in 2010 which had ripple effects around the world.
The Amazon rainforest absorbs an enormous amount of carbon dioxide from the air, more than 2 billion metric tonnes of carbon annually, which for reference is more than the weight of 300 million African elephants combined. If the forests cannot absorb as much of the carbon in the air then the world’s temperature could become even more extreme than their current levels. This vital service that the Amazon provides for the world was stunted however by the drought that stuck in 2010, slowing down the Amazon’s “carbon sink”,which refers to the rainforest’s ability to convert and store massive amounts of carbon from the air. This drought was caused by changing weather patterns tied to human-induced climate change where nearly 57% of the Amazon rainforest had uncharacteristically low rainfall compared to 37% in 2005. The drought had wide-reaching environmental effects, including causing a massive upshoot in tree mortality in the affected regions, from about 1.6% a year to as much as 7%. Additionally, the lack of rainfall negatively impacted the tree growth rate and caused the Amazon to absorb about 1.4 billion metric fewer tonnes of carbon after the drought.
At this point, it becomes abundantly clear that not only do droughts in the rainforest affect the world but also that human-induced climate change is a domino effect. It is the primary reason for irregularities in rainfall patterns, which in turn has caused a massive reduction in tree population and a decrease in the amount of the carbon being removed from the atmosphere.
This makes it crucial that we attempt to stabilize what’s happening to our climate.
There are countless ways to help our environment, we can stop the production of carbon at the source, meaning driving less or using an electric car, and we can eat less beef and other environmentally taxing foods, like palm oil. Additionally, we can support organizations like Rainforest Partnership in order to protect the world’s remaining forests that help provide the oxygen we need to breathe. By working together, we can save the rainforest.
Kinver, Mark. “Drought ‘shuts down Amazon Carbon Sink'” BBC News. N.p., 22 July 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.
Lewis, Simon L. “The 2010 Amazon Drought.” Sciencemag.org. N.p., 4 Feb. 2011. Web. 26 July 2016.
Oskin, Becky. “Amazon Rainforest Breathes In More Than It Breathes Out.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 26 July 2016.
Wynn, Gerard. “Amazon Drought Led to Doubling of Tree Mortality | Climate Home – Climate Change News.” Climate Home Climate Change News Amazon Drought Led to Doubling of Tree Mortality Comments. N.p., 05 Mar. 2015. Web. 26 July 2016.