Recurrent droughts increase risk of cascading tipping events by outpacing adaptive capacities in the Amazon rainforest
Tipping elements are nonlinear subsystems of the Earth system that have the potential to abruptly shift to another state if environmental change occurs close to a critical threshold with large consequences for human societies and ecosystems. Among these tipping elements may be the Amazon rainforest, which has been undergoing intensive anthropogenic activities and increasingly frequent droughts.
Here, we assess how extreme deviations from climatological rainfall regimes may cause local forest collapse that cascades through the coupled forest–climate system. We develop a conceptual dynamic network model to isolate and uncover the role of atmospheric moisture recycling in such tipping cascades. We account for heterogeneity in critical thresholds of the forest caused by adaptation to local climatic conditions.
Our results reveal that, despite this adaptation, a future climate characterized by permanent drought conditions could trigger a transition to an open canopy state particularly in the southern Amazon. The loss of atmospheric moisture recycling contributes to one-third of the tipping events. Thus, by exceeding local thresholds in forest adaptive capacity, local climate change impacts may propagate to other regions of the Amazon basin, causing a risk of forest shifts even in regions where critical thresholds have not been crossed locally.
Research news | 2023-06-02
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General news | 2023-06-01
Centre researcher Juan Rocha elected into Young Academy of Sweden
Centre researcher Juan Rocha joins the Young Academy of Sweden, a junior version of the prestigious Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, for a five-year term
Research news | 2023-05-31
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Research news | 2023-05-22
Financial actors and academia join forces to build back biodiversity
Today is International Biodiversity Day! This year with the theme “From agreement to action: build back biodiversity”, and for us, that is a good reason to highlight the potential of the finance sector in reviving biodiversity
General news | 2023-05-17
Maria Tengö appointed special professor at Wageningen University
Maria Tengö is the most recently appointed professor at the Stockholm Resilience Centre