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Amazon Rainforest Reaching Tipping Point


Amazon rainforest UPSC: Relevance

  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


Amazon rainforest: Context

  • According to a new study, above 75% of the Amazon rainforest is heading towards a tipping point since the 2000s.

अमेज़ॅन वर्षावन अस्थिर बिंदु तक पहुंच रहे हैं 

Amazon rainforest near tipping point: Key points

  • Using the satellite data, researchers found that the forest might be losing its ability to bounce back from extreme events such as drought or fire, threatening to become a dry savanna-like ecosystem.
  • The transition could have a negative impact on the forest as it could alter its rich biodiversity, carbon-storing potential and global climate change.
  • The study showed that the indicators of tipping points go up faster in areas with less rainfall and closer to human land use.


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Amazon rainforest importance

  • The Amazon’s rainforest has around 30 per cent of the world’s species, comprising 40,000 plant species, 16,000 tree species, 1,300 birds and more than 430 species of mammals.
  • Trees of amazon take up water through the roots, release it into the atmosphere, and influence precipitation over whole of South America.
  • The rainforest is also a carbon sink and thus plays an essential role in combating climate change.


Amazon rainforest: Present situation

  • Deforestation: According to reports, deforestation totalled 430 square kilometres in January 2022, five times higher than the same month last year.
  • This loss of trees will significantly impact the rainfall in the continent.
  • Increasing temperatures: Increasing temperatures due to human-induced climate change is pushing the rainforest to transform into a carbon source, from the carbon sink.
  • The researchers were of the view that the forests could release vast amounts of CO2 if they partially transform into dry habitats.
  • Human land-use activities: Practices like direct removal of trees, construction of roads, and fires are on the rise since 2010, which is also worsening the situation.


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Amazon rainforest deforestation effects

  • Scientists warn that decades of human activity and a changing climate has brought the jungle near a “tipping point.”
  • Experts also warn that the water cycle will soon become irreversibly broken, locking in a trend of declining rainfall and longer dry seasons that began decades ago.
  • At least half of the shrinking forest will give way to savanna.
  • With as much as 17% of the forest lost already, scientists believe that the tipping point will be reached at 20% to 25% of deforestation even if climate change is tamed.
  • If global temperatures rise by 4°C, much of the central, eastern and southern Amazon will certainly become barren scrubland.
  • If things continue as they are now, the Amazon might not exist at all within a few generations, with dire consequences for all life on earth.
  • If the Amazon is destroyed, it will be impossible to control global warming.


Amazon rainforest deforestation: Way forward

  • Reducing deforestation and limiting the global greenhouse gases will protect the forest’s threatened parts and boost Amazon rainforest resilience.


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