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Drought In Amazon Could Lead To Accelerated Global Warming

March 30, 2011 Comments off

ibtimes.com

A new study reveals a drought last year in the Amazon basin caused the forest to lose significant levels of vegetation, which in turn could accelerate the pace of global warming.

The study, conducted by an international team of scientists and funded by NASA, uses specific satellite imaging data provided by the agency to draw its conclusions. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellites provided more than a decade’s worth of data for scientists who studied the de-vegetation of the Amazon rainforest.

(Photo: NASA/BU) NASA satellite sensors, such as MODIS, showed an average pattern of greenness of vegetation on South America: Amazon forests which have very high leaf area are shown in red and purple colors, the adjacent cerrado (savannas) which have lower leaf area are shown in shades of green, and the coastal deserts are shown in yellow colors.

 

The scientists say changing climates with warmer temperatures and altered rainfall could lead to the rainforests turning into grasslands or woody savannas. This causes carbon stored in the rotting wood to be released into the atmosphere, which would add to the greenhouse gases present.

“The greenness levels of Amazonian vegetation — a measure of its health — decreased dramatically over an area more than three and one-half times the size of Texas and did not recover to normal levels, even after the drought ended in late October 2010,” Liang Xu, the study’s lead author from Boston University, said in a statement.

“The MODIS vegetation greenness data suggest a more widespread, severe and long-lasting impact to Amazonian vegetation than Read more…