News Stories

Death of the Amazon?Why it Matters to US

A severe drought has been affecting the amazon?the world's largest rainforest?for two years, but this has gone unreported here in the U.S. But the rest of the world is paying attention. In the New Zealand Herald, reporter Geoffrey Lean writes that "one further dry year?could tip the whole vast forest into a cycle of destruction" causing the rest of the world to become "hotter and drier"?in other words, a "worldwide catastrophe."

Lean quotes Brazilian researcher Antonio Nobre as saying that cutting down so many of the rainforest trees in order to create new farm land not only dries up the remaining brush, leading to forest fires, but also fuels hurricanes because "the hot, wet Amazon normally evaporates vast amounts of water, which rise high into the air as if in an invisible chimney, drawing in wet northeast trade winds, which have picked up moisture from the Atlantic. This, in turn, controls the temperature of the ocean?as the trade winds pick up the moisture, the warm water left gets saltier and sinks?[the] result is that the hot water in the Atlantic stays on the surface and fuels the hurricanes. Another is that less moisture arrives on the trade winds, intensifying the forest drought."

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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