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Geophysical Monograph Series

 

Keywords

  • Rain forest ecology—Amazon River Region
  • Biosphere—Research—Amazon River Region
  • Climatic changes—Amazon River Region
  • Amazon River Region—Climate

Index Terms

  • 1605 Global Change: Abrupt/rapid climate change
  • 1626 Global Change: Global climate models
  • 1630 Global Change: Impacts of global change

Article

GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 186, PP. 273-292, 2009

Global warming and climate change in Amazonia: Climate-vegetation feedback and impacts on water resources

José Marengo

Centro de Ciências do Sistema Terrestre/Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil


Carlos A. Nobre

Centro de Ciências do Sistema Terrestre/Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil


Richard A. Betts

Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK


Peter M. Cox


Gilvan Sampaio

Centro de Ciências do Sistema Terrestre/Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil


Luis Salazar

Centro de Ciências do Sistema Terrestre/Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil


This chapter constitutes an updated review of long-term climate variability and change in the Amazon region, based on observational data spanning more than 50 years of records and on climate-change modeling studies. We start with the early experiments on Amazon deforestation in the late 1970s, and the evolution of these experiments to the latest studies on greenhouse gases emission scenarios and land use changes until the end of the twenty-first century. The “Amazon dieback” simulated by the HadCM3 model occurs after a “tipping point” of CO2 concentration and warming. Experiments on Amazon deforestation and change of climate suggest that once a critical deforestation threshold (or tipping point) of 40–50% forest loss is reached in eastern Amazonia, climate would change in a way which is dangerous for the remaining forest. This may favor a collapse of the tropical forest, with a substitution of the forest by savanna-type vegetation. The concept of “dangerous climate change,” as a climate change, which induces positive feedback, which accelerate the change, is strongly linked to the occurrence of tipping points, and it can be explained as the presence of feedback between climate change and the carbon cycle, particularly involving a weakening of the current terrestrial carbon sink and a possible reversal from a sink (as in present climate) to a source by the year 2050. We must, therefore, currently consider the drying simulated by the Hadley Centre model(s) as having a finite probability under global warming, with a potentially enormous impact, but with some degree of uncertainty.

Citation: Marengo, J., C. A. Nobre, R. A. Betts, P. M. Cox, G. Sampaio, and L. Salazar (2009), Global warming and climate change in Amazonia: Climate-vegetation feedback and impacts on water resources, in Amazonia and Global Change, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 186, edited by M. Keller et al., pp. 273–292, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2008GM000743.

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