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      Climate Change, Deforestation, and the Fate of the Amazon

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      Science

      American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

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          Abstract

          The forest biome of Amazonia is one of Earth's greatest biological treasures and a major component of the Earth system. This century, it faces the dual threats of deforestation and stress from climate change. Here, we summarize some of the latest findings and thinking on these threats, explore the consequences for the forest ecosystem and its human residents, and outline options for the future of Amazonia. We also discuss the implications of new proposals to finance preservation of Amazonian forests.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Primary Production of the Biosphere: Integrating Terrestrial and Oceanic Components

           C Field (1998)
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            Determination of deforestation rates of the world's humid tropical forests.

            A recently completed research program (TREES) employing the global imaging capabilities of Earth-observing satellites provides updated information on the status of the world's humid tropical forest cover. Between 1990 and 1997, 5.8 +/- 1.4 million hectares of humid tropical forest were lost each year, with a further 2.3 +/- 0.7 million hectares of forest visibly degraded. These figures indicate that the global net rate of change in forest cover for the humid tropics is 23% lower than the generally accepted rate. This result affects the calculation of carbon fluxes in the global budget and means that the terrestrial sink is smaller than previously inferred.
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              Smoking rain clouds over the Amazon.

               M. Andreae (2004)
              Heavy smoke from forest fires in the Amazon was observed to reduce cloud droplet size and so delay the onset of precipitation from 1.5 kilometers above cloud base in pristine clouds to more than 5 kilometers in polluted clouds and more than 7 kilometers in pyro-clouds. Suppression of low-level rainout and aerosol washout allows transport of water and smoke to upper levels, where the clouds appear "smoking" as they detrain much of the pollution. Elevating the onset of precipitation allows invigoration of the updrafts, causing intense thunderstorms, large hail, and greater likelihood for overshooting cloud tops into the stratosphere. There, detrained pollutants and water vapor would have profound radiative impacts on the climate system. The invigorated storms release the latent heat higher in the atmosphere. This should substantially affect the regional and global circulation systems. Together, these processes affect the water cycle, the pollution burden of the atmosphere, and the dynamics of atmospheric circulation.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                January 11 2008
                January 11 2008
                : 319
                : 5860
                : 169-172
                Article
                10.1126/science.1146961
                18048654
                © 2008

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