Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Amazon rainforest more able to withstand drought than previously thought

Date:
November 14, 2013
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
New research suggests that the Amazon rainforest may be more able to cope with dry conditions than previously predicted. Researchers used a computer model to demonstrate that, providing forest conservation measures are in place, the Amazon rainforest may be more able to withstand periods of drought than has been estimated by other climate models.

Many climate models over predict the water stress plants feel during the dry season because they don't take into account the moisture that the forest itself can recycle in times of drought. In this study the researchers removed unrealistic water stress from their model and found that the moisture that is recycled by the forest is sufficient to reduce the intensity of drought conditions.
Credit: Peter Cox, University of Exeter

New research suggests that the Amazon rainforest may be more able to cope with dry conditions than previously predicted. Researchers at the University of Exeter and Colorado State University used a computer model to demonstrate that, providing forest conservation measures are in place, the Amazon rainforest may be more able to withstand periods of drought than has been estimated by other climate models.

Many climate models over predict the water stress plants feel during the dry season because they don't take into account the moisture that the forest itself can recycle in times of drought. In this study, published in the Journal of Climate, the researchers removed unrealistic water stress from their model and found that the moisture that is recycled by the forest is sufficient to reduce the intensity of drought conditions.

Dr Anna Harper from the University of Exeter said: "This study suggests that forests are not only more able to withstand droughts than we had previously thought, but it is the response of the forest itself that can reduce the intensity or length of the drought.

"Moisture recycling works best in large areas of undisturbed forest so it is essential that measures to protect the Amazon rain forest are in place to ensure that that this natural process can be maintained in what may be a drier climate in the future."

Moisture recycling includes the full cycle of rain -- from soil moisture to evaporated water vapour and back to rain. It depends on water both evaporating from the ground and also moving through plants from the roots to the leaves. Moisture recycling is an important source of rainfall over the Amazon forest; about one-third of the annual rainfall in the southern Amazon forest can originate from moisture recycling.

The process relies heavily upon the ability of plants to access soil moisture. During particularly severe droughts, trees reach a limit in their ability to access and use soil moisture. In many ecosystem models, plants reach this limit too soon, increasing the water stress that plants are predicted to feel during the dry season. In reality, moisture recycling can increase during the dry season resulting in increased atmospheric moisture, and even rain. This acts to reduce the water stress felt by the forest plants. The researchers took this dry season moisture recycling into account in their new model.

Climate change induced drought is likely to become a bigger problem in the coming years and forest conservation can help to mitigate the consequences. Large areas of undisturbed forest are more able to maintain moisture recycling during dry periods and are better able to recycle rainfall. Disturbed areas of forest, including those bordering pasture, are less able to maintain moisture recycling and as a result are less able to withstand drought.

Moisture recycling does not make the forest immune to drought but it can make the impacts of drought less severe. The optimum conditions for moisture recycling occur during the unstable climatic fluctuations at the end of the dry season.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anna Harper, Ian T. Baker, A. Scott Denning, David A. Randall, Donald Dazlich, Mark Branson. Impact of evapotranspiration on dry season climate in the Amazon forest. Journal of Climate, 2013; 130926081914006 DOI: 10.1175/JCLI-D-13-00074.1

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Amazon rainforest more able to withstand drought than previously thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114102522.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2013, November 14). Amazon rainforest more able to withstand drought than previously thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114102522.htm
University of Exeter. "Amazon rainforest more able to withstand drought than previously thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131114102522.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
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