May 27, 2012

NASA predicts milder Amazon fires

a_fire_dilwyn_may_2012_pachitea_peru_lr.jpgNASA’s predictions for Amazon fires suggest less vulnerability during 2012

The first ever formal prediction by NASA’s new fire severity model suggests that the Amazon rainforest will be less vulnerable to forest fires in 2012.  There will be fires in the Amazon, but the model predicts that they won’t be as likely in 2012 as in some previous years.


The model compared none years of satellite based fire data with sea surface temperature records and established a connection with fire activity in South America. According to the model, with sea surface temperatures in the Central Pacific and North Atlantic currently cooler than normal,  patterns of atmospheric circulation are predicted to increase rainfall across the southern Amazon in the months leading up to the fire season.

The researchers believe that the precipitation pattern during the end of the wet season is very important.  This is when soils are replenished with water.  When sea surface temperatures are higher, precipitation lessens across most of the region.  As a consequence, soils contain less water to start the dry season which makes trees and undergrowth more vulnerable to fire.

Amazon forests are highly biodiverse so their vulnerability to fires is particularly worrying.  The Amazon also stores large amounts of carbon that is released back to the atmosphere with naturally spontaneous or man-made fires.

Source: Science Daily



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