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Title: Floodplains as an Achilles' heel of Amazonian forest resilience
Authors: Flores, Bernardo Monteiro
Holmgren, Milena
Xu, Chi
Nes, Egbert H Van
Jakovac, Catarina Conte
Mesquita, Rita de Cássia Guimarães
Scheffer, Marten
Keywords: Carbon
Ecosystem Resilience
Forest Structure
Priority Journal
Remote Sensing
Soil Fertility
Climate Change
Geographic And Geological Phenomena
Climate Change
Geological Phenomena
Issue Date: 2017
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 114, Número 17, Pags. 4442-4446
Abstract: The massive forests of central Amazonia are often considered relatively resilient against climatic variation, but this view is challenged by the wildfires invoked by recent droughts. The impact of such fires that spread from pervasive sources of ignition may reveal where forests are less likely to persist in a drier future. Here we combine field observations with remotely sensed information for the whole Amazon to show that the annually inundated lowland forests that run through the heart of the system may be trapped relatively easily into a fire-dominated savanna state. This lower forest resilience on floodplains is suggested by patterns of tree cover distribution across the basin, and supported by our field and remote sensing studies showing that floodplain fires have a stronger and longer-lasting impact on forest structure as well as soil fertility. Although floodplains cover only 14% of the Amazon basin, their fires can have substantial cascading effects because forests and peatlands may release large amounts of carbon, and wildfires can spread to adjacent uplands. Floodplains are thus an Achilles' heel of the Amazon system when it comes to the risk of large-scale climatedriven transitions.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1073/pnas.1617988114
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