Every day that passes seems to want to endanger the Amazon rainforest more and more. According to a new report, with 26% of the area at least severely degraded, it has already passed its point of no return.
Billions oftreestrees. millions ofinsectsinsects different. birds and reptilesreptiles. Mammals too. The Amazon is a true treasure of biodiversity. A treasure that seems more important than ever to preserve in the context of global warming. But a report released in early September 2022 by the leaders nativenative suggests that the Amazon rainforest has already reached its tipping point.
Let’s remember, second IPCCIPCCthe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a turning point corresponds to aa “Critical threshold beyond which a system reorganizes itself, often brutally and / or irreversibly”. Kind of like when you take the wrong brick out of a Jenga tower and it crashes!
In the case of the Amazon rainforest, scientists have long been concerned about the combined effects of deforestationdeforestation and global warming. The day would come when she would no longer be able to maintain her climate. Then she would turn into a savannah. With less impressive trees, a biodiversitybiodiversity poorer and the storage capacities of the carboncarbon minor.
From the rainforest to the savannah
It would come one day, the researchers repeated, in 2021. And also at the beginning of this year 2022. But according to the report published a few days ago, that day has arrived. In particular, because data on the state of forest cover collected between 1985 and 2020 show that 26% of the Amazon rainforest has been lost (20%) or is now in an advanced state of degradation (6%). However, in 2018, experts announced that the Amazon turning point was … between 20 and 25% of the area destroyed!
Analysis of other data shows the effects of deforestation. Of the precipitationprecipitation which have already decreased by 17% in the last 20 years in Bolivia. With a temperature increase of + 1.1 ° C. And a region that is already turning into a savannah. In the southern Amazon, the seasonseason the dry now lasts from four to five months. That is five weeks longer than in 1999. From five to six months, the forest would not survive.
Experts are therefore calling for the rapid restoration of at least 6% of the Amazon forest – or 54 million hectares -, the equivalent of the area that is now heavily degraded. Among the tracks, the oil industry and the mining industry that degrade the forest. projects of constructionconstruction of roads that threaten it integrityintegrity. But according to a very recent study, agricultural projects in particular need to be revised. Between 90 and 99% of all deforestation in the tropicstropics it would in fact be due directly or indirectly to theagricultureagriculture. Despite “only” half to two thirds translates into an expansion of production.
At the same time, between 1uh and on September 4, the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) identified no less than 12,133 fires in the Amazon. They are more than two thirds of the total for September 2021. And it comes after the worst August of it mattersit matters for twelve years. It must be said that since Jair Bolsonaro came to power in 2019, deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in the country has increased by 75% compared to the previous decade.
The Amazon rainforest is on the brink of rupture
The Amazon rainforest is in danger. Through global warming and through deforestation operations that weaken it. Researchers confirm this today. They provide direct empirical evidence that the Amazon rainforest is losing its own resilienceresilience. And she comes so dangerously close to the turning point.
Article of Natalie MayerNatalie Mayer released on 03/13/2022
Last January, data from the National Space Research Institute of Brazil (Inpe) warned us once again. The Brazilian Amazon had just lost 430 square kilometers of forest in that month alone. To get an idea, know that this represents about four times the surface of the city of Paris. But above all it is not less than … five times more than in January of last year. Although the government has recently promised to control deforestation in the Amazon.
Remember that the Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical forest in the world. Alone, it also accounts for more than half of tropical forests. It is home to priceless biodiversity. While playing an important role in the Earth’s climate system. For its influence on the precipitation of an entire continent and for the colossal quantities of carbon it stores.
Today, an international team of researchers is publishing – as part of the project Critical points in the earth system (TiPES), a project dedicated to studying points of no return, a study that concludes that, since the early 2000s, more than three-quarters of the Amazon rainforest has lost its resilience. Understanding, their ability to recover from any ailment. Be it a deforestation operation, a storm or a forest fire.
Global warming and deforestation
This result, the researchers draw not from climate model predictions, but from an in-depth statistical analysis of 30 years of satellite data from the region. The researchers specifically worked on what they call the optical thickness of vegetation, or VOCs optical depth of vegetation – which gives them a pretty good idea of the amount of biomass and water content in plants. An indicator that betrays the efficiency with which vegetation recovers from a disturbance. And so they observed more pronounced loss of resilience in the driest areas. But also in regions located within a radius of about 200 kilometers from human settlements.
The study reveals that this loss of resilience brings the Amazon rainforest closer to its tipping point. The point where theecosystemecosystem it would undergo a drastic change. Notice what the researchers call a critical slowdown in ecosystem dynamics. A slowdown still observed in the data that characterize the biomass and the green of the forest. A slowdown that signals a weakening of the restorative forces capable of bringing the forest back into balance after disturbances.
If the entire forest – or even some regions – were to fall, it would turn into a much drier, savannah-like habitat. And while researchers remain unable to predict when this shift might take place, they still believe the tipping point has probably not yet been passed. That therefore it is always possible to avoid the worst.
Did you know ?
The “savanification” of the Amazon rainforest could lead to the emission of 90 gigatonnes of CO2. The equivalent of more than double the global emissions of a year. With the consequences we imagine on global warming.
How ? Acting on the areas that this work identifies as the most threatened. The driest areas and the areas most marked by human presence. Since the climate modelsclimate models to show that global warming will dry up the region, there is also an urgent need to limit ours emissionsemissions greenhouse gases to contain this climate change. And as our footprint damages the Amazon rainforest, it seems equally essential to drastically reduce logging in the region.