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Asner G.P.,Carnegie Institution for Science | Alencar A.,University of Florida | Alencar A.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia
New Phytologist | Year: 2010

Drought varies spatially and temporally throughout the Amazon basin, challenging efforts to assess ecological impacts via field measurements alone. Remote sensing offers a range of regional insights into drought-mediated changes in cloud cover and rainfall, canopy physiology, and fire. Here, we summarize remote sensing studies of Amazônia which indicate that: fires and burn scars are more common during drought years; hydrological function including floodplain area is significantly affected by drought; and land use affects the sensitivity of the forest to dry conditions and increases fire susceptibility during drought. We highlight two controversial areas of research centering on canopy physiological responses to drought and changes in subcanopy fires during drought. By comparing findings from field and satellite studies, we contend that current remote sensing observations and techniques cannot resolve these controversies using current satellite observations. We conclude that studies integrating multiple lines of evidence from physiological, disturbance-fire, and hydrological remote sensing, as well as field measurements, are critically needed to narrow our uncertainty of basin-level responses to drought and climate change. © The Authors (2010). Journal compilation © New Phytologist Trust (2010).

DeFries R.,Columbia University | Herold M.,Wageningen University | Verchot L.,Center for International Forestry Research | Macedo M.N.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | And 2 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

The Brazilian state of Mato Grosso was a global deforestation hotspot in the early 2000s. Deforested land is used predominantly to produce meat for distal consumption either through cattle ranching or soya bean for livestock feed. Deforestation declined dramatically in the latter part of the decade through a combination of market forces, policies, enforcement and improved monitoring. This study assesses how representative the national-level drivers underlying Mato Grosso's export-oriented deforestation are in other tropical forest countries based on agricultural exports, commercial agriculture and urbanization. We also assess how pervasive the governance and technical monitoring capacity that enabled Mato Grosso's decline in deforestation is in other countries. We find that between 41 and 54 per cent of 2000-2005 deforestation in tropical forest countries (other than Brazil) occurred in countries with drivers similar to Brazil. Very few countries had nationallevel governance and capacity similar to Brazil. Results suggest that the ecological, hydrological and social consequences of land-use change for export-oriented agriculture as discussed in this Theme Issue were applicable in about one-third of all tropical forest countries in 2000-2005. However, the feasibility of replicating Mato Grosso's success with controlling deforestation is more limited. Production landscapes to support distal consumption similar to Mato Grosso are likely to become more prevalent and are unlikely to follow a land-use transition model with increasing forest cover. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Castello L.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Macedo M.N.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Macedo M.N.,Institute Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazonia
Global Change Biology | Year: 2016

Hydrological connectivity regulates the structure and function of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems and the provisioning of services that sustain local populations. This connectivity is increasingly being disrupted by the construction of dams, mining, land-cover changes, and global climate change. This review analyzes these drivers of degradation, evaluates their impacts on hydrological connectivity, and identifies policy deficiencies that hinder freshwater ecosystem protection. There are 154 large hydroelectric dams in operation today, and 21 dams under construction. The current trajectory of dam construction will leave only three free-flowing tributaries in the next few decades if all 277 planned dams are completed. Land-cover changes driven by mining, dam and road construction, agriculture and cattle ranching have already affected ~20% of the Basin and up to ~50% of riparian forests in some regions. Global climate change will likely exacerbate these impacts by creating warmer and dryer conditions, with less predictable rainfall and more extreme events (e.g., droughts and floods). The resulting hydrological alterations are rapidly degrading freshwater ecosystems, both independently and via complex feedbacks and synergistic interactions. The ecosystem impacts include biodiversity loss, warmer stream temperatures, stronger and more frequent floodplain fires, and changes to biogeochemical cycles, transport of organic and inorganic materials, and freshwater community structure and function. The impacts also include reductions in water quality, fish yields, and availability of water for navigation, power generation, and human use. This degradation of Amazonian freshwater ecosystems cannot be curbed presently because existing policies are inconsistent across the Basin, ignore cumulative effects, and overlook the hydrological connectivity of freshwater ecosystems. Maintaining the integrity of these freshwater ecosystems requires a basinwide research and policy framework to understand and manage hydrological connectivity across multiple spatial scales and jurisdictional boundaries. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Soares-Filho B.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | Rajao R.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | Macedo M.,Federal University of Minas Gerais | Macedo M.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | And 5 more authors.
Science | Year: 2014

Brazil's controversial new Forest Code grants amnesty to illegal deforesters, but creates new mechanisms for forest conservation.

Markewitz D.,University of Georgia | Devine S.,University of Georgia | Davidson E.A.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Brando P.,Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | And 2 more authors.
New Phytologist | Year: 2010

Deep root water uptake in tropical Amazonian forests has been a major discovery during the last 15 yr. However, the effects of extended droughts, which may increase with climate change, on deep soil moisture utilization remain uncertain. The current study utilized a 1999-2005 record of volumetric water content (VWC) under a throughfall exclusion experiment to calibrate a one-dimensional model of the hydrologic system to estimate VWC, and to quantify the rate of root uptake through 11.5 m of soil. Simulations with root uptake compensation had a relative root mean square error (RRMSE) of 11% at 0-40 cm and < 5% at 350-1150 cm. The simulated contribution of deep root uptake under the control was c. 20% of water demand from 250 to 550 cm and c. 10% from 550 to 1150 cm. Furthermore, in years 2 (2001) and 3 (2002) of throughfall exclusion, deep root uptake increased as soil moisture was available but then declined to near zero in deep layers in 2003 and 2004. Deep root uptake was limited despite high VWC (i.e. > 0.30 cm3 cm-3). This limitation may partly be attributable to high residual water contents (θr) in these high-clay (70-90%) soils or due to high soil-to-root resistance. The ability of deep roots and soils to contribute increasing amounts of water with extended drought will be limited. © The Authors (2010). Journal compilation © New Phytologist Trust (2010).

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