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How Amazon Forests Find it Difficult to Keep Up with Climate Change

Global Warming's effects are now being felt anywhere / Photo by: Ivan Pellacani via Wikimedia Commons

 

The effects of global warming are everywhere and the Earth is getting warmer and warmer each day. Although a lot of scientists, environmentalists, and advocates are raising awareness of the effects of climate change in our planet, it's still not enough to control the melting glaciers and sea ice, and the increasing temperature. Human activities make the problem even worse. With the continuous use of plastic and styrofoam, destruction of biodiversity, and imbalanced ecosystem, the Earth is getting more in danger. 

In fact, the global average of surface temperature has increased between 1.1 and 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit since 1906 in the North Pole and the South Pole. According to National Geographic, our planet is suffering from numerous impacts of global warming. For instance, ice melting is becoming more evident in many parts of the word, especially at the Earth's pole. The Adelie penguins' population in Antarctica had massively declined to 11,000 breeding pairs from 32,000 for the past 30 years. There's also an increase in the sea level over the last century. 

The Global Importance of the Amazon

The list of the effects mentioned caused by global warming goes on and on. Unfortunately, even the Amazon forests that are a major contributor to making sure that our planet will still be a safe place to live, are having a hard time coping with climate change. 

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, global warming is slowly damaging the Amazon forests that could dramatically fasten the pace of forest loss and degradation. It contains 60% of the world's rainforest that provides irreplaceable ecosystem services. The Amazon is also responsible for creating 50 to 75% of its own precipitation that benefits a number of countries around the globe. Moreover, it has over 390 billion trees that lock up massive amounts of carbon in their branches, leaves, and trunks. In fact, about 86 billion tons of carbon or more are stored in the Amazon forests.

The Amazon Rain forest is one of the most important forests in the world / Photo by: lubasi via Wikimedia Commons

 

The Amazon is also a home to thousands of species of animals and plants across the globe. About 30% of the world's species are found there that has great help to humans in the form of food, medicine, and other products. It is also responsible for filtering reprocessing the harmful carbon dioxide output that's being produced by humans for the longest time. Additionally, it can be an important tool in controlling local and regional climates. 

Even humans have benefited a lot to the Amazon forests. People have used plants, insects, and other organisms for a variety of reasons - all just to make human lives easier and better. 

The Threat of Climate Change

With the continuous destruction of habitats and climate changes, the hydrological engine is beginning to fail. According to WWF, there are two major factors such as  El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and deforestation. It caused a sudden change to the Amazon's rainfall patterns and distribution.

A study conducted by the researchers of the University of Leeds entitled "Amazon forests failing to keep up with climate change," found out that major effects of global environmental change have been worse since the 1980s. Some of the impacts are increased temperatures, stronger droughts and higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which are quite noticeable around the world. As a result, some tree species' growth and mortality are greatly affected. 

Additionally, the study revealed that trees are dying faster than other species. Dr. Adriane Esquivel Muelbert, the lead author of the research from the School of Geography at Leeds said, "The ecosystem's response is lagging behind the rate of climate change. The data showed us that the droughts that hit the Amazon basin in the last decades had serious consequences for the make-up of the forest, with higher mortality in tree species most vulnerable to droughts and not enough compensatory growth in species better equipped to survive drier conditions."

Unfortunately, even the bigger trees are becoming a threat to the smaller ones. For instance, the canopy species in the upper levels of the forests are outcompeting smaller plants. They are the ones who benefit a lot to the increase of carbon dioxide. The study also revealed that carbon dioxide concentrations play a major role in rainforest composition and forest dynamics which show how forests grow, die and change. 

The Amazon is now showing its global warming effects due to deforestation n some areas of the forest / Photo by: Picography via Pixabay

 

Climate Change and Human Health

As the impacts of climate change continue to cross over the globe, the humankind is also at risk. Aside from extreme temperatures and increased ecological problems, humans can also experience extreme natural disasters such as floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes. This can cause an outbreak to a number of diseases such as malaria and dengue, and even infectious diseases such as cholera and meningitis.

Moreover, climate change will increase the risk of wildfires which can greatly affect human health. The massive rise of temperature may lead to several types of skin diseases. 

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