Tropical Forests May Be Resilient To Effects Of Climate Change

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Tropical forests may be more resistant to the effects of greenhouse gas emissions than previously believed, according to a new study published online this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.

In what Olive Heffernan of Nature refers to as “the most extensive study of its kind,” researchers from the US, the UK, Australia and Brazil created a simulation of the impact that carbon-based emissions would have on tropical forests in the Amazonia/Central America region, Asia and Africa through the year 2100.

“They compared the results from 22 different global climate models teamed with various models of land-surface processes. In all but one simulation, rainforests across the three regions retained their carbon stocks even as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increased throughout the century,” she added.

According to Reuters reporter Nina Chestney, the only region in which the team discovered forest cover loss was in the Americas (aka the Amazonia/Central America region).

The simulation that predicted a biomass loss in that area was developed by the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre, a climate change research center located in Exeter, Heffernan explained.

While the study said that there was still some uncertainty in determining exactly how different ecosystems will respond to climate change, lead author Chris Huntingford of the UK´s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology told Chestney they determined that there was “evidence of forest resilience” in all three regions.

“The big surprise in our analysis is that uncertainties in ecological models of the rainforest are significantly larger than uncertainties from differences in climate projections,” Huntingford said in a statement. “Despite this we conclude that based on current knowledge of expected climate change and ecological response, there is evidence of forest resilience for the Americas (Amazonia and Central America), Africa and Asia.”

“This study highlights why we must improve our understanding of how tropical forests respond to increasing temperature and drought,” added co-author Dr. David Galbraith of the University of Leeds. “Different vegetation models currently simulate remarkable variability in forest sensitivity to climate change. And while these new results suggest that tropical forests may be quite resilient to warming, it is important also to remember that other factors not included in this study, such as fire and deforestation, will also affect the carbon stored in tropical forests.”