Friday, August 6, 2010

Climate change could destroy 80 per cent of rainforest by next century

Richard Alleyne in the Telegraph (UK): Rainforests currently hold more than half of all the plant and animal species on Earth. However, scientists say the combined effects of climate change and deforestation may force them to adapt, move, or die. By 2100, this could have altered two-thirds of the rainforests in Central and South America, about 70 per cent in Africa.

The Amazon Basin alone could see changes in biodiversity for 80 per cent of the region. Greg Asner, of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in California, who led the research, said it was the first study yet to show the world's natural ecosystems will undergo profound changes.

He explained: "This is the first global compilation of projected ecosystem impacts for humid tropical forests affected by these combined forces. For those areas of the globe projected to suffer most from climate change, land managers could focus their efforts on reducing the pressure from deforestation, thereby helping species adjust to climate change, or enhancing their ability to move in time to keep pace with it….”

…Daniel Nepstad, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, which studies climate change in Massachusetts, said: "This study is the strongest evidence yet that the world's natural ecosystems will undergo profound changes including severe alterations in their species composition through the combined influence of climate change and land use….

View of Amazon basin forest north of Manaus, Brazil. Image taken from top of a 50 m tower for meteorological observations, and the top of vegetation canopy is typically 35 m. Shot by Phil P. Harris, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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