New research published in Nature shows a direct link between vegetation and tropical rain. Using satellite data, the researchers found that air that has passed over extensive vegetation in tropical forests could produce ‘at least twice as much rain as air that has passed over little vegetation.’
With this information, the researchers were able to predict a rainfall reduction in the Amazon of up to 21% by 2050, which ‘is equivalent to the severe drought in the Amazon in 2010,’ according to co-author Dominick Spracklen from the University of Leeds.
‘When forests are replaced by pasture or crops, evapotranspiration of moisture from soil and vegetation is often diminished, leading to reduced atmospheric humidity and potentially suppressing precipitation,’ they write in the paper.
One of the problems is that tropical deforestation may affect people living outside the forest, as they still get rain thanks to vegetation that may be located many miles away.
Source: Planet Earth
Photo credit: Martin St-Amant
DV Spracklen, SR Arnold, & CM Taylor (2012). Observations of increased tropical rainfall preceded by air passage over forests Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature11390