Catastrophic destruction of the Amazon forest may occur much sooner than previously thought. A study by the British research center Rothamsted Research has shown that more than 20% of global ecosystems are at risk of rapid destruction in the coming decades. Environmental and climate crises can amplify and accelerate each other, leading to tipping points in ecosystems.
Turning points in ecosystems
Turning points in ecosystems occur because of new stressors or extremes. Even if a system is stable, increased global warming and weather disasters can throw it out of balance and disrupt it. Analysis has shown that up to 15% of tipping points are due to these factors.
The Rothamsted Research study is based on computer modeling data. According to the findings, catastrophic destruction of the Amazon forests could occur very soon. Previous studies of ecological tipping points have suggested significant social and economic costs not until the middle of the XXI century. However, the results of the new study show that these problems may arise much earlier.
The head of the study, Professor Simon Wilcock, noted that analysis of the system dynamics of climate change also revealed some positive aspects. Small changes can lead to large negative consequences as well as trigger positive changes.
Degradation of the Amazon Tropics
More than one-third of the Amazon’s extant tropics continue to be degraded by human activity. The area of endangered rainforest is ten times the size of Great Britain. One of the main factors in the degradation is the clearing of forests to use the land for agriculture and timber extraction.
Many experts believe that preserving the Amazon forest is critical to the planet’s biodiversity and climate. The Amazon forest is home to many species of animals and plants and plays an important role in the carbon cycle. Every year the Amazon forest absorbs huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.