"Warming Atlantic Primes the Amazon for Fire"

"The warming Atlantic Ocean is drawing moisture away from the Western Amazon, drying the rainforest and catching residents by surprise. 'We weren't prepared.'"

"Scientists used to think the rainforest, especially in the western Amazon, was too wet to burn. But major fire seasons in 2005 and 2010 made them reconsider.

Fires are a major source of carbon emissions in the Amazon, and scientists are beginning to worry that the region could become a net emitter, instead of a carbon sink. New findings link rising ocean temperatures off the northern coast of Brazil to changing weather patterns: As the Atlantic warms, it draws moisture away from the forest, priming the region for bigger fires.

'We are reaching a tipping point in terms of drought, beyond which these forests can catch fire,' says Daniel Nepstad, international program director at the Amazon Environmental Research Institute in Brasília, Brazil."

Barbara Fraser reports for The Daily Climate April 9, 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012