A new paper co-authored by WHRC scientists Philip Duffy and Paulo Brando evaluates the accuracy of current climate models and uses them to project future drought and wet periods in the Amazon. They conclude that the whole of the Amazon will confront more hydrological extremes, and that most of the region will experience much more frequent and extensive drought. These changes would have profound implications for forest structure, composition, biomass, and carbon emissions.
According to Dr. Duffy, "Historically, the main source of CO2 emissions from Amazon forests has been direct human action, especially deforestation. However, in the future, climate change may cause large emissions that result from changes in the large-scale environment rather than from direct human action, and hence are much more difficult to control. This study, based on 35 climate models, suggests that future climate change will increase the frequency and geographic extent of meteorological drought in most of Amazon. This may contribute to forest degradation and increased emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere, amplifying global warming."