The recent study published by the journal “Nature Climate Change” stated that the Brazilian Amazon has started to release roughly 20 percent more carbon dioxide than it absorbed during the 2010s. The rain forests of Amazon absorbed about 13.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide between 2010 and 2019. However, it released 16.6 billion metric tons during that same period.
In order to put that in context, human fossil fuel combustion is believed to produce around 35 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. Notably, deforestation of the Amazon has greatly hiked during the reign of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. The authors point out the pool land management policy which include forest degradation and deforestation as the major reasons.
The authors state, “Forest degradation has become the largest process driving carbon loss and should become a higher policy priority.” The forest devastation has contributed to about 73 percent of the “gross biomass loss” of the Amazon, in comparison to deforestation, which has contributed 27 percent of that loss. As the authors clarify, the primary reason that make the rainforest a carbon fountain is forest devastated. The forest degradation happens when a the biological diversity and wealth of a forest is permanently diminished.
Notably, the rainforests are termed as the “lungs” of the Earth. Thus, they play a major role in maintaining the global carbon cycle. The Amazon rainforest can soon be a net emitter of carbon was not entirely surprising given trends.
Jean-Pierre Wigneron, the co-author of the paper, told Agence France-Presse in a statement, “We half-expected it, but it is the first time that we have figures showing that the Brazilian Amazon has flipped, and is now a net emitter.” Further, he added that we don’t know at what point the changeover could become irreversible.
The rainforests are not always the Carbon emitters. The scientists, in 2019, at the Climate Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, gave warning that the rising temperatures and droughts will be transforming the tropical forests into being carbon emitters.