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AMAZON RAINFOREST MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO DROUGHT

12/31/2012

The Amazon rainforest may be more susceptible to drought than previously believed, according to a new study. The impacts of a 2005 drought persisted significantly longer than scientists had previously believed, raising questions about the forest's ability to cope with climate change. The research is based on satellite data and analysis of rainfall observations, measuring characteristics of the forest including water content in leaves and the overall structure of the canopy, to look at the response of the rainforest to the 2005 drought, the worst on record at the time. The results indicated that the region generally viewed as less vulnerable to drought than other parts of the Amazon experienced a strong "water deficit" that was evident more than four years after the drought. The results appear to indicate that the Amazon appears to be experiencing a rise in drought conditions and that it may be vulnerable to a "tipping point" where the ecosystem shifts towards woodland and open savannah. For the full story, see http://news.mongabay.com/2012/1224-amazon-drought-persistence.html.