Saving for a rainy day

Now, a new study is offering insight into the long-term impacts of these changes, particularly the effects of large-scale deforestation in tropical regions on the global climate.

Specifically, deforestation of Amazonia was found to severely reduce rainfall in the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, and northern Mexico during the spring and summer seasons when water is crucial for agricultural productivity. Deforestation of Central Africa has a similar effect, causing a significant precipitation decrease in the lower U.S Midwest during the spring and summer and in the upper U.S. Midwest in winter and spring. Deforestation in Southeast Asia alters rainfall in China and the Balkan Peninsula most significantly.

Elimination of any of these tropical forests, Amazonia, Central Africa or Southeast Asia, considerably enhances rainfall in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. However, the combined effect of deforestation in all three regions shifts the greatest precipitation decline in the U.S. to California during the winter season and further increases rainfall in the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

(EurekAlert: “Tropical deforestation affects rainfall in the US and around the globe” [Sept 13, 2005])