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Rainforests & Rainfall

September 26, 2012

Deforestation can lead to droughts hundreds of miles away.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Rain-making rainforests.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Cutting down rainforests in one region can deprive farms in other regions of rainfall. This according to British researchers reporting in the journal Nature. University of Leeds environmental scientist Dominick Spracklen says they used newly available NASA satellite data, which tracks both forest cover and rainfall in the tropics.

DOMINICK SPRACKLEN (University of Leeds, England):

And we use our model to predict where air has come from over the past ten days, at any location in the tropics.

HIRSHON:
They found that air masses that had passed over large areas of forest provided more rainfall than air masses that had not. And forests in the Amazon and the Congo support rainfall in several key agricultural areas. Spracklen says that other countries should follow Brazil’s lead in curbing deforestation, since depleting forests within their borders could affect not only their own food supply, but their neighbors’ as well.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

The health of tropical forests like this one in the Brazilian Amazon affects rainfall in agricultural regions hundreds of miles away. (Lubasi/Wikimedia Commons)