Researchers have long predicted the regional implications of the deforestation of the Amazon, and there are a number of climate simulations demonstrating how this deforestation will produce large regional changes in precipitation and temperature.
More recently, researchers have created simulations to look at the effects of Amazon deforestation on the global climate, and the results are devastating.
Princeton University-led researchers recently reported in the Journal of Climate that widespread destruction of the Amazon rainforest could result in 20% less rain in the northwest U.S, and 50% less snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is an important source of water for irrigation in California’s Central Valley. California has been the nation’s primary state for food and dairy production for the past 50 years.
The model indicated that massive deforestation in the Amazon could result in a 50% reduction of the Sierra Nevada snowpack.
The researcher’s simulations showed that Amazon deforestation would likely produce dry air that might move over the western United States from December to February, producing a climate pattern similar to an El Niño. During the winter months, southern California would experience a large amount of precipitation, while the Pacific Northwest would dry out.
The study concluded that deforestation of the Amazon could be a driver of climate change in agriculturally important areas of the United States. Although the exact impact of widespread deforestation of the Amazon on the global climate are unknown, it is clear that effects will not be contained to the region.
Despite conservation efforts, deforestation of the Amazon rainforest continues to occur at an astounding pace. The Amazon rainforest has an incredible influence on climate, and it is important that scientists continue to do simulations of the deforestation process in order to better understand the regional and global impact. Hopefully, this sort of research will influence policymakers to introduce legislation to better protect the Amazon rainforest, which in turn will help protect the global climate.