Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Assessing The Amazon River's Sensitivity To Deforestation

Date:
June 21, 2005
Source:
Woods Hole Research Center
Summary:
Understanding how the Amazon River varies in time, what causes those variations, and how sensitive it will be to ongoing, and accelerating, deforestation is a focus of study for scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center. By using a combination of numerical models and data from several disciplines to assess the possible impacts of future human-induced land cover and land use change, researchers are investigating the causes of changes to stream hydrology and biogeochemistry.

Understanding how the Amazon River varies in time, what causes those variations, and how sensitive it will be to ongoing, and accelerating, deforestation is a focus of study for scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center. Population and development pressures in the last several decades have led to significant areas of deforestation in the Amazon, most in the eastern and southern portion of the basin. By using a combination of numerical models and data from several disciplines to assess the possible impacts of future human-induced land cover and land use change, researchers are investigating the causes of changes to stream hydrology and biogeochemistry.

The Amazon, one of the most important watersheds on the planet and the largest river in the world, includes a massive network of rivers, floodplains, streams and wetlands, all playing an important role in modulating the Earth's hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles. With nearly 20 percent of the Earth's freshwater discharge, the Amazon carries more water than the nine other largest rivers of the world combined. The first phase of the study, led by Marcos Costa at the University of Viçosa in Minas Gerais, Brazil and completed in 2002, put together an enormous collection of data describing the physical characteristics of the Amazon River Basin. The data included the first detailed representation of the stream network throughout the 6 and 1/2 million km2 basin, and by itself, took 5 people over nine months to create. Researchers all over the globe are now using this data.

The second phase, led by Michael Coe, an associate scientist with The Woods Hole Research Center, was to build the first comprehensive computer model of the Amazon River and floodplain. This model, built over the course of several years and just recently completed, simulates the inter-connected river and floodplain system for the entire 6.5 million km2 basin. According to Coe, "The problem has always been that there simply aren't enough observations over a long enough time period for us to understand the River system. So this model, by letting us simulate the entire river through time, has helped us learn much about how the river flow and flooded area react to year-to-year variations in climate."

Currently entering a third phase of study, a model of the Amazon River and floodplain will be combined with estimates of future deforestation to understand how humans may be affecting the Amazon. Coe says, "This research will provide us with a better understanding of how sensitive the Amazon river is to human activities and can provide government managers and civil society with a tool for analyzing the costs and benefits of different land-use policies and help plan future settlement, land use and conservation priorities."

"This third phase is particularly exciting because we are now combining what we have learned about the physical River with human activities on the land surface, such as deforestation and agriculture," says Coe. This novel linkage of social and physical sciences will provide a better understanding of the consequences for the River of a range of land use policy options in Amazonia, from current business-as-usual development trends to improved governance strategies leading into the mid-21st century. "It is that improved understanding of how human decisions about land use directly impact the River and its ecosystems, which can help people make more informed decisions for the future of Amazonia," he adds.

###

Funding for this work has been provided by NASA and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

The Woods Hole Research Center is dedicated to science, education and public policy for a habitable Earth. The Center has initiatives in the Amazon, the Arctic, Africa, Russia, Boreal North America, the Mid-Atlantic, and New England, including Cape Cod. Programs focus on the global carbon cycle, forest function, landcover/land use, water cycles and chemicals in the environment, science in public affairs, and education, providing primary data and enabling better appraisals of the trends in forests that influence their role in the global carbon budget.

For more information, visit:
http://whrc.org/programs/landwater.htm


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Woods Hole Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Woods Hole Research Center. "Assessing The Amazon River's Sensitivity To Deforestation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050621074414.htm>.
Woods Hole Research Center. (2005, June 21). Assessing The Amazon River's Sensitivity To Deforestation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050621074414.htm
Woods Hole Research Center. "Assessing The Amazon River's Sensitivity To Deforestation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050621074414.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) — The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) — AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) — A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) — A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins