Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Deforestation reduces rainfall in Africa

PhysOrg: Deforestation in the rainforests of West Africa reduces rainfall over the rest of the forest, according to new University of Leeds research published in Geophysical Research Letters. The study shows that changing land use from forest to crop land reduces rainfall over neighbouring trees by around 50% due to changes in the surface temperature which affects the formation of rain clouds.

The authors say the findings have important implications for future decisions about land management in this region and other global rainforests such as the Amazon. Lead author of the study Dr Luis Garcia-Carreras, from the University of Leeds School of Earth and Environment, said: "We already know from satellite observations that changes in land use can have a big impact on local weather patterns. Here we have been able to show why this happens.

"Our findings suggest that it's not just the number of trees removed that threatens the stability of the world's rainforests, the pattern of deforestation is also important."

The forests of West Africa and the Congo Basin are the second largest in the world after the Amazon rainforest. They are important not only as a habitat for a vast and diverse ecosystem but also as a carbon sink, removing a large proportion of the CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere and slowing down climate change....

Hilly landscape near Kpalimé, Togo, shot by Francois Jake Green (Fanfan), Wikimedia Commons via Picasa, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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