Amazon Rainforest Will Collapse by 2064, New Study Predicts
The future of the world's largest rainforest looks bleak. A new report for Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development concluded that the Amazon rainforest will collapse and largely become a dry, shrubby plain by 2064. Development, deforestation and the climate crisis are to blame, study author and University of Florida geologist Robert Toovey Walker found, UPI reported.
Walker reviewed recent research, offering that heavy development in Amazonian nations depleted the forest and threatens to push it over the edge towards destruction.
By nature of being a rainforest, the canopy creates its own precipitation. The local environment and inhabitants rely on the freshwater created therein for survival. The ecosystem can recover from smaller, periodic droughts but longer and more severe events are already diminishing the forest's long-term resilience, Interesting Engineering reported.
Longer dry seasons, which the rainforest is already experiencing and which are exacerbated by deforestation and the climate crisis, prevent rainforest canopies from recovering from fires. Flammable grasses and shrubs "permanently invade" and take over the landscape; the tropical rainforest dries out and transforms into a tropical savanna, the study found.
"A forest cannot survive if its canopy needs more than 4 years to recover from a yearly [drought] event," Walker wrote in the report. "Southern Amazonia can expect to reach a tipping point sometime before 2064 at the current rate of dry-season lengthening."
Earlier this year, a different study found that the Amazon ecosystem could collapse in less than 50 years with deforestation being the primary culprit. According to UPI, Walker's latest review shaved five years off from that estimate and gave the most specific date of ecosystem demise ever provided, citing the same reason.
Fire, deforestation and logging are leading causes of tree loss. Industrial-scale cattle ranching and soybean production, in particular, drive the latter. Additionally, illegal gold mining is laying the forest bare and polluting rivers.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for opening the forest to exploitation and inciting forest destruction. Under Bolsonaro, Amazon deforestation skyrocketed to a 12-year high, and activists warned that he used the pandemic as a smokescreen to undermine protections for the rainforest. Walker criticized Bolsonaro's administration for "appear[ing] intent on scrapping all remaining restraints on the unfettered exploitation of Amazonia's natural resources."
Walker also estimated that the Amazon has shrunk by about 20% since intense development began and that the dry season has already lengthened in the south by an additional 6.5 days per decade, UPI reported.
The study's models predict that once deforestation reaches 30-50% in southern Amazonia, rainfall in the west will decrease by up to 40%, cementing the deterioration in that environment from lush, tropical forest to arid, open savanna, Science Alert reported.
"The best way to think of the forest ecosystem is that it's a pump," Walker told UPI. "The forest recycles moisture, which supports regional rainfall. If you continue to destroy the forest, the rainfall amount drops... and eventually, you wreck the pump."
As the forest transforms into a grassland, all the benefits of the massive ecosystem will also disappear and a "multidimensional catastrophe" will ensue, Walker wrote in the study.
Primarily, water security will evaporate for over 35 million people living in the region, Science Alert continued. The entire continent's dependency upon Amazonia for freshwater "means that the magnitude of the catastrophe will be worse than heretofore imagined," Walker noted in the study.
Additionally, many plants and animals in the biodiverse ecosystem will be driven to extinction. Among those could lie new medical discoveries and foods, UPI noted. Timber and other precious resources will also disappear.
Finally and perhaps most alarmingly, according to Science Alert, the forest could lose its ability to store the world's excess carbon which helps to regulate the climate and planetary temperature. In fact, some predict the world's largest forest will flip from a sink to a source around 2035, the report said.
Walker concluded that it was "doubtful" that the Amazon forest could remain resilient into the future given the layers of threats facing it.
- Amazon Ecosystem Could Collapse in Less Than 50 Years, Study ... ›
- Deforestation in Amazon Skyrockets to 12-Year High Under Bolsonaro ›
- Amazon's Widespread Fire Damage Is 'Invisible to Our Eyes ... ›
- Amazon Rainforest Fires in Brazil Surge in July - EcoWatch ›
- Brazil's Amazon Rainforest Is the Wild West for Illegal Gold Miners ... ›
- Amazon Rainforest on the Brink of Turning Into a Net Carbon Emitter, Study Warns - EcoWatch ›
- New EarthX Special 'Protecting the Amazon' Suggests Ways to Save the World’s Greatest Rainforest - EcoWatch ›
- New Clues Help Monarch Butterfly Conservation Efforts - EcoWatch ›
- Monarch Butterflies Will Be Protected Under Historic Deal - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.
- Remarkable Drop in Colorado River Water Use Sign of Climate ... ›
- California Faces a Future of Extreme Weather - EcoWatch ›
Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
- 14 Countries Commit to Ocean Sustainability Initiative - EcoWatch ›
- These 11 Innovations Are Protecting Ocean Life - EcoWatch ›
- How Innovation Is Driving the Blue Economy - EcoWatch ›