Effects Of Deforestation On Environment – Every tree in the forest is a fountain, sucking water from the ground through its roots and releasing water vapor into the atmosphere through the pores of its leaves. In their billions, they create huge rivers of water in the air – rivers that form clouds and rain hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

But as we shave the planet of trees, we risk drying up these aerial rivers and the lands that depend on them for rain. A growing body of research suggests that this hitherto neglected effect of deforestation may moderate the effects of global climate change in the interior of many continents. It could dry up the Nile, stop the Asian monsoon, and dry up fields from Argentina to the Midwestern United States.

Effects Of Deforestation On Environment

Effects Of Deforestation On Environment

Until recently, the data nodes delivering such warnings were fragmented and often sent to small scientific journals. But reports presented in recent weeks at two forest forums hosted by the United Nations and the Norwegian government have highlighted growing concerns.

Deforestation Effects: Confronting Its Consequences On Earth

In Norway, the US Michael Wolosin of the think tank Forest Climate Analytics and Nancy Harris of the World Resources Institute published a study concluding that “the loss of tropical forests is having a greater impact on climate than is generally understood.” They warned that large-scale deforestation in the world’s three main tropical forest zones — Africa’s Congo Basin, Southeast Asia, and especially the Amazon — “could disrupt the water cycle enough to pose a significant threat to agriculture in the key breadbasket.” Worldwide in the US, India and parts of China.

A tree that grows in water every day has a cooling effect equivalent to two household air conditioners for a day.

And in a background paper for the UN event, David Allison, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, reports on a “growing state-of-the-art literature” that “evaluates the potential impact of forest cover on water availability across a broad expanse of continental, terrestrial surface.”

It is known that carbon dioxide emissions from deforestation add 10 percent or more to global warming by reducing the amount of CO2 the world’s forests pull from the atmosphere. But the authors of both papers say that this understanding of the global impacts of deforestation tends to eclipse findings about other “non-carbon” climate impacts that can play out intensively at local and regional scales.

Deforestation / Reforestation

The impact of deforestation on precipitation is one of the most important non-carbon impacts. But there are others. For instance, healthy forests release a range of volatile organic compounds that “have an overall cooling effect on our climate,” mostly by blocking incoming solar energy, says Dominic Spracklen of the University of Leeds in England. Deforestation removes this cooling effect and increases warming, he and an international team concluded in a study published earlier this year.

Meanwhile, lost forests are usually replaced by agriculture, which produces its own emissions. Add to these effects, and the real contribution of deforestation to global climate warming since 1850 is 40 percent, Volosin and Harris conclude. At that rate, tropical deforestation could add 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) to global temperatures by 2100—even if we stopped fossil fuel emissions tomorrow, calculates Natalie Mahowald of Cornell University.

On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which has one of the worst deforestation rates in the world, temperatures in logged areas have risen an average of 1.05 degrees Celsius since 2000. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

Effects Of Deforestation On Environment

But there are also local effects. Forests moderate the local climate by keeping their local environment cool. They do this partly by shading the soil, but also by releasing moisture from their leaves. This process, called transpiration, requires energy, which is extracted from the surrounding air, thus cooling it.

Deforestation In Nigeria

A single tree can evaporate hundreds of liters of water in a day. Every hundred liters has the cooling effect equivalent to two household air conditioners for a day, Allison calculated.

The effects of this loss of arboreal air conditioning have recently been observed in monitoring the rapid deforestation of tropical regions. Take the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which is losing forests to palm oil cultivation faster than almost anywhere else on Earth. A study last year found that since 2000, surface temperatures there have risen an average of 1.05 degrees Celsius (1.8 °F), compared with 0.45 degrees in forested areas. Clifton Sabajo at the University of Göttingen in Germany found temperature differences between forested and clear-cut land of up to 10 degrees Celsius (18 °F) in parts of Sumatra.

Meanwhile, in the Amazon, Michael Ko of the Woods Hole Research Center recently noted a 3°C (5.4°F) difference between the coolness of the wild Xingu Indigenous Park and the surrounding croplands and pastures.

“Forests cause rainfall and without it the interior of these continental areas would have become deserts,” says an expert.

Deforestation Animals Stock Illustrations

But the heat is just the beginning. There is also drought – not just in and around former forest land, but far and wide. And a host of new studies are forcing a reassessment of exactly why it rains where it does.

We are used to thinking of rain as the end result of water evaporating from the ocean. It is overwhelmingly the case in coastal regions. But it turns out that much of the precipitation in the interior of the continents comes from water that falls and is often recycled into the air in precipitation cascades following the wind. Further inland, this recycling becomes more pronounced.

Some recycling is direct evaporation from lakes, rivers, or wetlands. But most of them are fast-tracked by plants and especially trees. Tree roots tap moisture from deep in the soil. This circulation system is driven by the release of moisture into the air through their leaves through transpiration.

Effects Of Deforestation On Environment

According to one estimate, the planet’s land vegetation recycles 48 cubic miles of water per day. A tenth of that is released by the Amazon rainforest alone – more than the daily discharge of the Amazon River.

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Trees draw water from the soil and release water vapor through their leaves, creating atmospheric rivers of moisture. World Resources Institute

Transpiration is essential to form new precipitation downwind. And the heart of this process is in surviving tropical rainforests, where transpiration is most intense.

“Traditionally, people say that areas like the Congo and the Amazon get more rain because they are located in parts of the world that get more rain,” says Doug Scheel of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences near Oslo. “But forests cause rain, and if they weren’t there the interior of these continental areas would be deserts.”

In a study of tropical regions downwind of deforestation, Sprecklen found that “air passing through extensive vegetation produced at least twice as much precipitation in the first few days as air passing through sparse vegetation.” He predicts that forest loss is set to reduce dry-season rainfall across the Amazon basin by 21 percent by 2050.

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Ari Staal of Wageningen University in the Netherlands reported earlier this year that one-third of the rain that falls in the Amazon basin comes from moisture generated within the basin, mostly through trees. Dependence was greatest downwind in the west of the basin, away from the Atlantic Ocean. With one-fifth of the Amazon rainforest gone, drought risks have increased for such regions. Coe reported low rainfall and a long dry season in Rondônia, an Amazon province on Brazil’s western border with Bolivia.

Amazon Midwestern US Provides moisture up to 50 percent of its rainfall comes from evaporation from the soil.

Daniel Ruiz of Columbia University says rainfall in the Colombian Andes is becoming more seasonal, with less humidity and fewer clouds. Some researchers believe that this scent may extend as far south as Argentina and from the northern Caribbean to North America. The Amazon is believed to provide moisture to the Midwest, which receives 50 percent of its precipitation from water evaporated from the soil.

Effects Of Deforestation On Environment

Attributed to changes in rainfall due to changed land use. But a growing body of research claims that deforestation’s fingerprints are increasingly visible. In Borneo, an analysis of nine watersheds found that those with the most deforestation experienced a nearly 15 percent decrease in rainfall. In India, Supantha Paul of the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai found that patterns of declining rainfall during the Indian monsoon coincided with changing forest cover.

How Does Deforestation Affect The Environment?

Patrick Keys of the Stockholm Resilience Center in Sweden says the downwind effect of deforestation is not limited to the tropics. “China receives a very large proportion of its rainfall from water that is recycled through evaporation on land,” he said.

It “has a very high probability of change in its precipitation driven by atmospheric land-use change” as far away as the forests of Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

This is for farmers, but also for city dwellers. In a study of 29 megacities around the world, Keyes found that 19 depended on evaporation and transpiration from the soil. He identified Karachi as the most vulnerable in Pakistan and

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