Understanding Climate Change

Half of the Amazon’s forests may be displaced by savanna-like vegetation by the end of the century. Causes of tropical deforestation, such as cattle ranching and slash-and-burn agriculture, contributes one fifth of the average annual global emissions of carbon to the atmosphere. The savannization of even 10% of what remains of the Amazon could provoke net carbon emissions to the atmosphere of several billion tons with potentially substantial impacts on regional evapotranspiration and rainfall.

Harvard scientists are working on understanding how the ongoing deforestation is affecting the intensity and distribution of clouds and precipitation across the Amazon basin, and assessing how the changes in disturbance patterns such as fire, droughts, and wind can further affect the forest distribution and composition in the near future.

Prof. P. Moorcroft