40% of Amazon could now exist as rainforest or savanna-like ecosystems

Amazon Rainforest
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A larger part of the Amazon rainforest than previously believed is at risk of crossing a tipping point at which it would become a savanna-type ecosystem, according to new research. The study, based on computer models and data analysis, is published in the journal Nature Communications.


Rainforests are sensitive to changes that affect rainfall for extended periods. If rainfall drops below a certain threshold, areas may shift into a savanna state.

“In around 40 percent of the Amazon, the rainfall is now at a level where the forest could exist in either state—rainforest or savanna, according to our findings,” says lead author Arie Staal, formerly a postdoctoral researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Center and the Copernicus Institute of Utrecht University.

The conclusions are concerning because parts of the Amazon region are currently receiving less rain than they were previously, and this trend is expected to

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