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Scientists study Amazon to predict impact of climate change


Amazon fishermen A fisherman and his sons return with their catch of tambaqui, one of the Amazon’s most highly valued fish species dependent on the floodplains.

May 15, 2014 – Scientists from Virginia Tech, the Woods Hole Research Center, and the University of California Santa Barbara are collaborating with Brazilian scientists to explore the ecosystem consequences of three extreme weather events — the extreme droughts of 2005 and 2010 and the extreme flood of 2009 — on the Amazon wetlands.

With funding from NASA, the researchers will look at how the natural seasonality of river levels influences aquatic and terrestrial grasses, fisheries, and forest productivity in the floodplains, and how extreme events such as floods and droughts may disturb this cycle. They will also examine the potential impact of future climate scenarios on the extent and productivity of floodplain forests.

“The research fills an important gap in our understanding of the vulnerability of tropical river-forest systems to changes in climate and land cover,” said Assistant Professor Leandro Castello, team leader.

The huge study area encompasses 1.7 million square miles, the equivalent of half the continental United States. In addition to historical records and ground observations, the researchers will use newly available satellite images of the Amazon and its tributaries over the high- and low-water cycles from NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Program.

Read the full press release.

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