Drought sensitivity of the Amazon rainforest.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Amazon forests are a key but poorly understood component of the global carbon cycle. If, as anticipated, they dry this century, they might accelerate climate change through carbon losses and changed surface energy balances. We used records from multiple long-term monitoring plots across Amazonia to assess forest responses to the intense 2005 drought, a possible analog of future events. Affected forest lost biomass, reversing a large long-term carbon sink, with the greatest impacts observed where the dry season was unusually intense. Relative to pre-2005 conditions, forest subjected to a 100-millimeter increase in water deficit lost 5.3 megagrams of aboveground biomass of carbon per hectare. The drought had a total biomass carbon impact of 1.2 to 1.6 petagrams (1.2 x 10(15) to 1.6 x 10(15) grams). Amazon forests therefore appear vulnerable to increasing moisture stress, with the potential for large carbon losses to exert feedback on climate change.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Phillips, OL; Aragão, LEOC; Lewis, SL; Fisher, JB; Lloyd, J; López-González, G; Malhi, Y; Monteagudo, A; Peacock, J; Quesada, CA; van der Heijden, G; Almeida, S; Amaral, I; Arroyo, L; Aymard, G; Baker, TR; Bánki, O; Blanc, L; Bonal, D; Brando, P; Chave, J; de Oliveira, ACA; Cardozo, ND; Czimczik, CI; Feldpausch, TR; Freitas, MA; Gloor, E; Higuchi, N; Jiménez, E; Lloyd, G; Meir, P; Mendoza, C; Morel, A; Neill, DA; Nepstad, D; Patiño, S; Peñuela, MC; Prieto, A; Ramírez, F; Schwarz, M; Silva, J; Silveira, M; Thomas, AS; Steege, HT; Stropp, J; Vásquez, R; Zelazowski, P; Alvarez Dávila, E; Andelman, S; Andrade, A; Chao, K-J; Erwin, T; Di Fiore, A; Honorio C, E; Keeling, H; Killeen, TJ; Laurance, WF; Peña Cruz, A; Pitman, NCA; Núñez Vargas, P; Ramírez-Angulo, H; Rudas, A; Salamão, R; Silva, N; Terborgh, J; Torres-Lezama, A

Published Date

  • March 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 323 / 5919

Start / End Page

  • 1344 - 1347

PubMed ID

  • 19265020

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-9203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0036-8075

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/science.1164033


  • eng