Observations of increased tropical rainfall preceded by air passage over forests

D. V. Spracklen, S. R. Arnold and C. M. Taylor
Nature 489, 282–285, (2012), doi:10.1038/nature11390
In a new Nature publication, Spracklen et al. used satellite remote-sensing data of tropical precipitation and vegetation combined with simulated atmospheric transport patterns to assess whether forests actually have an influence on tropical rainfall. They found that for more than 60 per cent of the tropical land surface, air that had passed over extensive vegetation in the preceding few days produced at least twice as much rain as air that has passed over little vegetation. The authors demonstrated that this empirical correlation was consistent with evapotranspiration from the forested areas and estimated that deforestation in the Amazon will lead to reductions of 12 and 21 per cent in wet-season and dry-season precipitation, respectively, 2050.

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