The Amazon rainforest is one of our planet’s most vital defenses against global warming. However, that defense is now being ravaged by the very thing scientists hope it will help stop. According to a new study led by the World Weather Attribution group, climate change is the main driver behind the Amazon’s record-breaking drought, and deforestation likely isn’t helping, either.
The Amazon is a very rich source of biodiversity, and it contains around 10 percent of the world’s species. However, researchers note that the Rio Negro, one of the largest rivers in the world, reached the lowest recorded level it has ever hit in over 100 years back in October. Which could spell doom for many of these species.
While it isn’t unusual to see the water levels changing, the World Weather Attribution group says that the Amazon is struggling in more ways than one and that one of the biggest drivers of the Amazon’s record-breaking drought from the past year is due to drier than normal soil in the area.
This dry soil, the group says, is driven by the Amazon receiving less rainfall than it used to during its driest part of the year: June to November. While this has always been a dry season for the forest, the researchers say it has become drier in recent years.
According to the new study, simulations show that an intense record-breaking drought of this type would likely have only happened once every 1,500 years if human-driven climate change hadn’t raised the global temperature by 1.2 degrees Celsius. However, the researchers say climate change has made the severity of this drought 30 times more likely, and another is expected to happen within the next 50 years if the current conditions continue.
Further, if we continue in the way that we are now, and the global temperatures rise even more, the researchers say we could see these kinds of record-breaking droughts in the Amazon every 13 years, which would absolutely decimate the environment there.
It’s a stark warning that things are continuing to get out of hand, and with no clear way to combat climate change being pushed, it’s likely we’ll see these kinds of “doomsday events” come to life in one way or another.