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Deforestation In The Amazon River Basin

1590 words - 7 pages

Deforestation of the Amazon River basin has been progressing for decades as mass quantities of land have become necessary to sustain the growing farming industry of the area. Road-building, farming, ranching, and logging have been devastating to the tropical forests and the change has been rapid as deforestation of the area only began around 1970 (Fearnside, Pfaff). The government of countries in the Amazon have designed their current initiatives around increasing infrastructure and business, but these initiatives are largely responsible for deforestation activity (Laurance). The decline in forests of this region has become a serious issue as the effects it has on the climate and ecosystem of the Amazon River basin and the rest of the world are great. The high rate of deforestation in this area, averaging from 25,000 to 50,000 square kilometers per year since 1970, suggests numbers that project a complete absence of Amazonian tropical forest within the next 50 to 100 years if greater prevention methods are not taken (Shukla). These number projections mean threatening futures for deforestation dynamics, carbon fluxes, forest fragmentation, impacted ecosystems, social issues, and climates both of the region and the world.
Recent changes in Amazon River basin are a direct result of deforestation. Climate change in the area highlights the negative impact that the loss of tropical forests in this area has had. Because the presence or absence of vegetation is directly influential in regional climate, shown though controlled numerical experiments with complex models of the atmosphere, studies have shown that the changing climate of this area is due in large part to deforestation. Moderate and localized deforestation has caused a local reduction in precipitation of -220 to -640 mm/yr, evaporation of -164 to -500 mm/yr, an increase in surface temperature of 0ºC to 3ºC, and a decrease in moisture convergence of the area (Lean, Werth). These changes imply a connection not only between deforestation and regional climate, but also between deforestation and larger scale atmospheric flow. Removal of 30 to 40% of the tropical forests of the Amazon River basin would likely push the majority of the region into a permanently drier climate (Malhi).
Carbon flux of the region has also been a negative impact of deforestation in the area. Deforestation dynamics in Mato Grosso during 2001–2004 highlight the need for understanding of how land use after deforestation, not just total area of forest loss, contributes to the magnitude of carbon losses from forest clearing. Carbon loss per area deforested for cropland is greater than other types of forest conversion because of the rapid and complete removal of biomass and woody roots needed to permit tractor planting that has very little or no net carbon offset (Morton). The use of land for farming that has caused Amazonian deforestation has transformed Brazil into the fourth major atmospheric carbon contributor in the world...

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