Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Why the Amazon forests are no longer acting as a carbon sink

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Amazon forests

Mains level : Climate Change

The Amazon forests in South America, which are the largest tropical forests in the world, have started emitting carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of absorbing carbon emissions.

Note the countries bordered by the Amazon forests.

Amazon forests

  • The Amazon rainforest is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America.
  • This basin encompasses 7,000,000 sq km of which 5,500,000 sq km are covered by the rainforest.
  • The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.
  • It represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world.

Why in news?

  • A significant amount of deforestation in eastern and southeastern Brazil has turned the forest into a source of CO2 that has the ability to warm the planet.
  • Not only the Amazon rainforests, some forests in Southeast Asia have also turned into carbon sources in the last few years as a result of the formation of plantations and fires.

What have the researchers found?

  • Over the years as fossil-fuel emissions across the world have increased, the Amazon forests have absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere, helping to moderate the global climate.
  • But researchers are not saying that because of significant levels of deforestation (over the course of 40 years) there has been a long-term decrease in rainfall and increase in temperatures during the dry season.
  • Because of these reasons the eastern Amazon forests are no longer carbon sinks, whereas the more intact and wetter forests in the central and western parts are neither carbon sinks nor are they emitters.
  • Another reason for the eastern region not being able to absorb as much CO2 as it did previously is the conversion of forests into agricultural land.
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