GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 186, PP. ix-ix, 2009
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
International Institute of Tropical Forestry, USDA Forest Service NEON, Inc.
University of Brasília
University of São Paulo
Writing about Amazonia demands superlatives: the world's most extensive area of tropical forest, the world's greatest river,
the world's most species-diverse ecosystem, the world's largest store of aboveground carbon; the list goes on. We add one
more: Amazonia, subject of the largest, coordinated, scientific study into a specific region of the world's land surface.
That study, an international experiment led by Brazil, is the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia, also
known as LBA. The ambitious objective of LBA was to understand how Amazonia functions as an entity, as a whole ecosystem.
This task was made all the more urgent, yet equally all the more difficult, by the fact that Amazonia is in a state of flux.
Climate change, combined with land cover change in the form of deforestation, has created a three-dimensional moving picture
of interacting causes and effects. To capture this dynamic situation, LBA adopted the design philosophy that the big picture
would only emerge from an understanding of the component pieces and the interactions between them, building up regional-scale
understanding from local measurements. This book synthesizes the results of that LBA research, bringing together the most
important new scientific results and the new understanding that has resulted. The statistics on LBA are impressive: nearly
2000 scientists (including over 500 Ph.D. and masters students) producing at least 1300 scientific papers. Reviewing all of
this research in a single book is a daunting task and a process that inevitably reflects the personal perspectives of the
editors and authors. Nevertheless, we hope to have covered the whole spectrum of research: the human dimensions, the meteorology
and atmospheric chemistry, the ecology and biogeochemistry of the land surface, and the hydrology. Despite the integration
of research within LBA, there is a continuing need to improve communications between disciplines and for individual scientists
to see their own research in the context of the overall effort to understand the Amazonian ecosystem. Recognizing this need,
the Scientific Steering Committee of LBA asked us to edit this book, to bring all this research together within one cover.
An important legacy of LBA has been the training of a new generation of young environmental scientists who are now responsible
for continuing the next phase of LBA. We envision that this book will be a resource to underpin that future research.
Citation: Gash, J.,