Rainforest area twice the size of California experiencing drought rate that is unprecedented in a century, study shows
- Jonathan Watts, Latin America correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 January 2013 11.33 EST
The megadrought in the Amazon rainforest during the summer of 2005 caused widespread damage and die-offs to trees, as depicted in this photo taken in western Amazonia in Brazil. Photograph: JPL-Caltech/Nasa
A team of scientists led by the agency found that an area twice the size of California continues to suffer from a mega-drought that began eight years ago.
With little time for the trees to recover between what the authors describe as a “double whammy”, 70m hectares of forest have been severely affected, the analysis of 10 years of satellite microwave radar data revealed.
The data showed a widespread change in the canopy due to the dieback of branches, especially among the older, larger trees that are most vulnerable because they provide the shelter for other vegetation.
“We had expected the forest canopy to bounce back after a year with a new flush of leaf growth, but the damage appeared to persist right up to the subsequent drought in 2010,” said study co-author Yadvinder Malhi of Oxford University. (more).
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