Deforestation alters regional climate in Brazil

Satellite data reveals increased temperatures in deforested areas, shown here as red patches Copyright: NASA

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Research has revealed links between deforestation in the Amazon basin and regional climate change. Satellite data shows that during last August’s dry season, areas of logged forest had higher temperatures and more rainfall than areas of intact rainforest.

The findings contrast with earlier studies that predicted deforestation would lead to decreased rainfall. The researchers think that the effect is strongest during the transition from dry to wet seasons, when large-scale weather disturbances — which could overwhelm local conditions — are less common.

Away from the forest, the scientists observed large increases in cloud cover over the savannah region and the city of Porto Velho, Brazil. This pattern is probably due to the contrast in surface heating between deforested and savannah areas, they say.

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