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The global peril of droughts in the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest may release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it stores during droughts, a February paper in Nature found.

Luciana Vanni Gatti of the Nuclear Energy Research Institute in Brazil reached that conclusion in a project involving fellow Brazilian researchers and colleagues from Australia, the United Kingdom and United States.

The study shows that the Amazon’s ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere seems to be linked to rainfall. If further research confirms this conclusion, climate change could turn the region into a net source of CO2 emissions, rather than somewhere that absorbs it, as previously thought. This could accelerate and intensify global warming.