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Early warning system for Amazon forest losses seen in climate models

As plants in the Amazon rainforest die off, huge amounts of carbon are released – a key signal that these losses may happen is temperature swings between seasons

Environment 12 April 2022

NEAR ALTAMIRA, BRAZIL - JUNE 15: Construction continues at the Belo Monte dam complex in the Amazon basin on June 15, 2012 near Altamira, Brazil. Belo Monte will be the world???s third-largest hydroelectric project and will displace up to 20,000 people while diverting the Xingu River and flooding as much as 230 square miles of rainforest. The controversial project is one of around 60 hydroelectric projects Brazil has planned in the Amazon to generate electricity for its rapidly expanding economy. While environmentalists and indigenous groups oppose the dam, many Brazilians support the project. The Brazilian Amazon, home to 60 percent of the world???s largest forest and 20 percent of the Earth???s oxygen, remains threatened by the rapid development of the country. The area is currently populated by over 20 million people and is challenged by deforestation, agriculture, mining, a governmental dam building spree, illegal land speculation including the occupation of forest reserves and indigenous land and other issues. Over 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of participants and protesters will descend on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, later this month for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development or ???Earth Summit???. Host Brazil is caught up in its own dilemma between accelerated growth and environmental preservation. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Belo Monte dam complex in the Amazon basin in Brazil

Mario Tama/Getty Images

An early warning signal for the loss of plants in the Amazon rainforest can be seen in the temperature difference between seasons, according to the latest climate models.

The sixth generation of climate models, which were used to inform the 2021 climate reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, incorporate a wide range of data and environmental mechanisms. They are the first to include dynamic vegetation, which looks at how plant populations change and interact over time. Predicting …