What will happen to the Amazon when CO2 levels in the atmosphere increase significantly in the coming decades? British and Brazilian scientists are building “carbon rings” in the world’s largest rain forests to simulate and simulate the future.
The metal tower stands more than 35 meters high among the leafy peaks in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, some 80 km north of Manaus, in northern Brazil. Around it, 16 aluminum towers will be placed in a ring, to “pump” CO2, and transform this forest into an experiment for the future of the planet.
The AmazonFACE project, co-opted by the governments of Brazil and the United Kingdom, is “an open-air laboratory that allows us to understand how the forest will behave in the coming scenarios of climate change,” he explains. of the tower and wearing a helmet to protect Carlos Quesada, one of his coordinators.
“How can the forest react to the increase in temperature, to the reduction in the availability of water, in a world with more carbon? Technology.
– ‘A window into the future’ –
Face technology (Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment, the enrichment of carbon dioxide in the free atmosphere), has already been used in forests in Australia, the United States and the United States of America, but never in a tropical forest.
By 2024, there will be six “carbon rings” that will contain this gas -one of the causes of global warming – between 40% and 50% higher than now.
For ten years, researchers have been unraveling the processes that take place in leaves, roots, soil, water cycles and nutrients.
“We will have more detailed projections: on the one hand, how the Amazon rainforest can help climate change with its ability to extract carbon from the atmosphere, and on the other hand it will help us understand how the rain forest is affected by these changes,” said David Lapola, a researcher at the University of Campinas, who is planning with Quesada composes.
An increase in carbon in the atmosphere may lead to the “savannization” of the Amazon, with its vegetation adapted to a climate of higher temperatures and longer droughts.
But CO2 could also “fertilize” the forest and make it temporarily more resistant to these changes.
“This would be a scenario with a positive impact, at least temporarily, which is very important for the implementation of plans to eradicate emissions,” says Quesada.
The goal is “a window to the future: we will be able to open it and see what will happen in the next 30 years. And when we gain time,” he adds.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has again urged ambitious actions against global warming.
According to its most recent report published in March, warming could already reach 1.5 °C in pre-industrial times by 2030-2035.
The report of the study by the researchers Thomas E. Lovejoy and Carlos Nobre, from 2018, states that the Amazon will not reach any return to “savannization” due to another reason: deforestation, since it affects 20%-25% of its territory.
It currently reaches 15%.
– Brazil-UK Cooperation –
AmazonFACE, organized by Unicampo and the Brazilian Ministry of Science, in collaboration with the Foreign Office and the British Meteorological Office (MET Office).
British Chancellor James Cleverly visited the facilities this week and announced a new contribution of 2 million pounds (USD 2.4 million) to the plan, which by 2021 has already received 7.3 million pounds from the United Kingdom (more than nine million dollars. current exchange).
For its part, Brazil invested 32 million reais (USD 6.4 million).