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Reduced rainfall increases the risk of forest dieback, while in return forest loss might intensify regional droughts. The consequences of this vegetation–atmosphere feedback for the stability of the Amazon forest are still unclear. Here we show that the risk of self-amplified Amazon forest loss increases nonlinearly with dry-season intensification. We apply a novel complex-network approach, in which Amazon forest patches are linked by observation-based atmospheric water fluxes. Our results suggest that the risk of self-amplified forest loss is reduced with increasing heterogeneity in the response of forest patches to reduced rainfall. Under dry-season Amazonian rainfall reductions, comparable to Last Glacial Maximum conditions, additional forest loss due to self-amplified effects occurs in 10–13% of the Amazon basin. Although our findings do not indicate that the projected rainfall changes for the end of the twenty-first century will lead to complete Amazon dieback, they suggest that frequent extreme drought events have the potential to destabilize large parts of the Amazon forest.
General news | 2017-07-20
Initiative is the first time that companies from Asia, Europe and the US have come together with the aim to end unsustainable practices
Research news | 2017-07-19
Financial markets example of how information flows are turning increasingly faster and more complex in the Anthropocene
Research news | 2017-07-11
More companies join largest seafood producers’ quest for ocean stewardship
Research news | 2017-07-02
Centre director Johan Rockström co-authors six-point plan for turning the tide of the world’s carbon dioxide by 2020
Research news | 2017-07-01
New study examines how a change in migration patterns of the northeast Atlantic mackerel led to intergovernmental dispute
Research news | 2017-06-29
Henrik Österblom is concerned about the ocean and engaged in ensuring that his work reaches outside of academia