Deforestation in the Amazon heats land more than 60 miles from where the trees are felled, reveals new research.
British and Brazilian scientists found tropical forests cool land far in the distance.
It was already known that clearing the forests warms the nearby environment, in areas where residents are already exposed to dangerous temperatures.
But the study, led by University of Leeds researchers, reveals the mass tree-felling is contributing to climate warming far further afield than previously thought.
The experts studied 3.7 million locations across the Amazon basin, comparing how warm the regions had become with how many trees they had lost locally and across the region.
Local deforestation was defined as two kilometers from where the data was collected, and regional from two kilometers to 100 kilometers (328084 feet) away.
They found the land temperature changed by 0.3 degrees Celsius in areas with little local or regional deforestation.
Meanwhile, those with 40 to 50 percent local deforestation warmed by an average 1.3 Celsius.
Temperatures in places with both local and regional deforestation soared by 4.4. degrees.
Dr. Edward Butt, of the University of Leeds, said: “Understanding the impact of forest loss in the Amazon is of critical importance.
“The world is getting warmer as a result of climate change.
“It is important that we understand how deforestation of the Amazon ecosystem is contributing to climate warming.
“If deforestation is warming surrounding regions, this would have big implications for people living in those areas.”
The team also studied how mass tree-felling until 2050 could warm the Brazilian Amazon.
They modeled two scenarios, one where protected areas are not safeguarded by the Forest Code, and another where some protection is in place.
In the southern Amazon, where forest loss is the greatest, minimising deforestation would reduce future warming by over 0.5 Celsius in Mato Grosso state, which is mostly covered by the rainforest.
Resisting deforestation in that area would reap the greatest benefits.
Co-author of the study Professor Dominick Spracklen, University of Leeds, said: “It is well known that protecting tropical forests is crucial in the fight against global climate change.
“Our work shows that protecting forests will also have big benefits at a local, regional and national scale.
“We show that reducing deforestation would reduce future warming across the southern Amazon.
“This would benefit people living across the region through reducing heat stress and reducing the negative impacts on agriculture.”
Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers added: “The regional warming due to Amazon deforestation will have negative consequences for the 30 million people living within the Amazon basin, many of whom are already exposed to dangerous levels of heat.”
They compared forest loss with the land surface temperature in the Amazon, which was collected by satellites between 2001 and 2020.
Dr. Celso von Randow, a researcher from the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research and a co-author of the study, said: “In Brazil, studies on the importance of conserving forests for carbon storage are common, but we still lack studies on their biophysical effects.
“This is important because the Amazon is warming rapidly due to climate change, and now exacerbated by deforestation.
“New efforts to control deforestation across the Brazilian Amazon have been successful and deforestation rates have declined over the last year, and now we see benefits of possibly reducing the warming affecting people living in this region.
“Recognizing such benefits will hopefully result in more widespread support for continued efforts to reduce deforestation and protect forests.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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