Woods Hole Research Center on Amazonian Drought

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Jim Torson

Aug 5, 2006, 10:43:39 PM8/5/06
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The RealClimate website recently posted some discussion
on some articles supposedly describing research by the
Woods Hole Research Center on Amazonian drought:

By Gavin
August 4, 2006



The comments on this discussion include the following,
which should clarify the views of the WHRC scientists:

Comment #35:

Posted on behalf of Daniel Nepstad, senior
scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, and
lead investigator on the forest drought
experiment. (Via Elizabeth Braun, Director of Communications at the Center.) -

On July 23, The Independent report on the recent
findings of our forest drought experiment in the
Amazon, in which we reduced rainfall inputs to a
hectare of forest over a five-year period. This
alarmist article involved no interview, and it
contains many statements that I do not support.

To clarify, our results do not show that the
rainforest 'could become a desert'. In the third
paragraph, the piece implies that I support the
position that drought in the Amazon will lead to
drought that would spread to Britain, with the
world spinning out of control, becoming uninhabitable. That is simply not true.

What our work does show is that the drought we
imposed caused big trees to die more than small
trees, which was a surprise. We also know that
the amounts of carbon that may be going to the
atmosphere following Amazon droughts are probably
big enough to accelerate global warming.
Currently trends suggest that a big chunk of the
Amazon forest will probably be displaced by
fire-prone scrub vegetation; global warming will
probably exacerbate this trend.

The challenges we are confronting and those that
we will be faced with in the future are
significant. The world's tropical rainforests
will be changed in important ways by global
warming. But public understanding of these
processes is not served by evoking apocalyptic
images. What is needed now is credible reporting
and sound journalism so that the global community can act wisely.

[Response: Thank you very much for the clarification. - gavin]

Comment by Elizabeth Braun ­ 5 Aug 2006 @
<http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=333#comment-17074>1:57 pm

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