A new study published in Nature suggests that deforestation can reduce rainfall dramatically, having a devastating impact on those living near the Amazon and Congo forests.
Dominick Spracklen from the University of Leeds and colleagues used satellite data on rainfall patterns and forest cover to create a computer model. The model showed that rainfall across the vast basin could lessen by 12 percent during wet seasons and 21 percent during dry seasons, impacting on farmers and reducing hydro-electricity output from receding river flows. “We were surprised to find that this effect occurs strongly across more than half of the tropics,” said Spracklen.
He also said, “Our study implies that deforestation of the Amazon and Congo forests could have catastrophic consequences for the people living thousands of kilometers away in surrounding countries,”.
“Changes in regional climate could exacerbate drought-related tree mortality, which in turn would reduce carbon stocks, increase fire risks and lower biodiversity.
“Such changes might also directly threaten agriculture, which generates $15 billion (12 billion euros) in Amazonia, and the hydropower industry which supplies 65 percent of Brazil’s electricity.”
Spracklen also noted that the findings show the importance of initiatives to protect tropical forests.