Bringing The “Rain” In Rainforest: Scientists Discover How Trees Help Keep The Amazon Irrigated

The Amazon, one of the Earth’s last remaining frontiers, teems with a rich diversity of plant and animal life, many species of which still remain undiscovered.  This melting-pot of life is a well-oiled machine and is a wonder in itself, providing the Amazon’s residents with the essentials they need to thrive.

One aspect that keeps the Amazon ecosystem in its optimal state is the area’s weather and climate which is described as peculiar, with experts baffled by the unexplained rains falling in the region months before they should.

Scientists have tried to answer the mystery behind the phenomenon. Previous studies suggested that the dense forest released tiny particles of salt into the air, attracting moisture from the atmosphere which then produced clouds followed by rain. This seemed plausible in 2012 but a study in 2017 may already have the explanation they are looking for.

Source: Pixabay

Rong Fu, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles believes that the plants were releasing enough water vapour into the air to produce clouds over the Amazon. This moisture released by plants through tiny pores under their leaves, was a by-product of photosynthesis through the process called transpiration.

This hypothesis was confirmed with the help of NASA’s Aura satellite which allowed the scientists to observe water vapor over the Amazon. They found that the moisture accumulating over the rainforest was different from the moisture originating from the ocean, making it clear that the source was indeed from the trees themselves. They also noted that the amount of moisture from the trees were highest during the “greening” season where photosynthesis was strongest.

The rains that these trees produce have been found to raise the temperature in the Amazon’s atmosphere. This warm air attracts more moisture, this time coming from the ocean, bringing in more rains to the forest. These findings prove that trees play an active role in local weather and that they are not mere recipients of rainfall but are also capable of regulating it.

This makes us re-think how deforestation impacts the already extreme weather that we experience now.

Watch the video from The World Economic Forum Facebook page below:

Source: World Economic Forum | via True Activist

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