Amazon rainforest struggling to adapt to climate change

Published on
December 3, 2018

The Amazon rainforest is struggling to adapt to climate change, according to an article in the scientific journal Global Change Biology, published by a team of more than a hundred researchers, including Pieter Zuidema of Wageningen University.

Zuidema and his colleagues researched the biggest changes the world's largest tropical rainforest has undergone in the last three decades. Zuidema told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that they fear biodiversity will continue to decrease in the forests.

Measurements taken at more than a hundred locations in the Amazon region suggest that climate change has changed the composition of the forest since the 1980s. Intensifying drought, higher temperatures, and increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere all influence the growth and death of tree species. Some species are more resilient than others, with larger trees and drought-tolerant trees in particular benefiting from the new climate conditions. On the losing end are smaller and less drought-tolerant species. The study found that the Amazon rainforest is indeed responding to our changing climate. The question is whether this response is fast enough to prevent large-scale forest death caused by intensifying drought in the future.