The Amazon Is Almost Fully Saturated, And Could Flip to Emitting Carbon in 15 Years
PATRICK GALEY, AFP
5 MAR 2020
The world’s tropical forests are rapidly losing their ability to absorb carbon dioxide from greenhouse gas emissions, with the Amazon rainforest at risk of turning from carbon sink to source within 15 years, researchers warned Wednesday.
Tropical forests provide humans with medicine, food, shelter and water and currently account for around half of all terrestrial carbon absorption.
But they are rapidly getting saturated as manmade emissions continue to climb year on year.
Forests act as a carbon sink when the amount of carbon retrieved through photosynthesis outweighs that emitted by tree loss – be that through fire, drought or deforestation.
But the rate of forest decline varies throughout the world, with the Amazon’s absorption ability dropping far faster than the tropical forests of sub-Saharan Africa.
A team of dozens of Europe- and Africa-based researchers monitored tree growth and mortality data from undisturbed forests across 11 countries in Africa stretching back over 50 years.
They then compared that data with similar measurements taken across more than 300 plots of Amazon rainforest.