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Front. Earth Sci. | doi: 10.3389/feart.2018.00228

Changes in climate and land use over the Amazon Region: current and future variability and trends

  • 1Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alertas de Desastres Naturais (CEMADEN), Brazil
  • 2Instituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazônia, Brazil
  • 3Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung (PIK), Germany
  • 4Met Office Hadley Centre (MOHC), United Kingdom
  • 5Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), Brazil
  • 6Federal University of Espirito Santo, Brazil

This paper shows recent progress in our understanding of climate variability and trends in the Amazon region, and how these interact with land use change. The review includes an overview of up-to-date information on climate and hydrological variability, and on warming trends in Amazonia, which reached 0.6-0.7 °C over the last 40 years, with 2016 as the warmest year since at least 1950 (0.9 °C +0.3°C). We focus on local and remote drivers of climate variability and change. We review the impacts of these drivers on the length of dry season, the role of the forest in climate and carbon cycles, the resilience of the forest, the risk of fires and biomass burning, and the potential “die back” of the Amazon forests if surpassing a “tipping point”. The role of the Amazon in moisture recycling and transport is also investigated, and a review of model development for climate change projections in the region is included.
In sum, future sustainability of the Amazonian forests and its many services requires management strategies that consider the likelihood of multi-year droughts superimposed on a continued warming trend. Science has assembled enough knowledge to underline the global and regional importance of an intact Amazon region that can support policymaking and to keep this sensitive ecosystem functioning. This major challenge requires substantial resources and strategic cross-national planning, and a unique blend of expertise and capacities established in Amazon countries and from international collaboration. This also highlights the role of deforestation control in in support of policy for mitigation options as established in the Paris Agreement of 2015.

Keywords: Amazonia, El Nino, climate variability, deforestation, tipping point

Received: 16 Sep 2018; Accepted: 27 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Juan Carlos Jimenez, University of Valencia, Spain

Reviewed by:

Paulo Brando, Woods Hole Research Center, United States
Edward T. Mitchard, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Marengo, Souza, Thonicke, Burton, Halladay, Betts, Al;ves and Soares. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Jose A. Marengo, Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alertas de Desastres Naturais (CEMADEN), São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil, jose.marengo@cemaden.gov.br