The Fall of The Amazon Could Trigger a Global Cascade of Tipping Points

The Amazon rainforest is rapidly losing its forests, and if this ecosystem collapses, it might transform from a massive carbon sink to a gushing carbon faucet. Some climatologists already believe that the rainforest is emitting more carbon than it is taking in.

According to a recent research, if the Amazon passes a crucial self-resilience barrier, the calamity might trigger a domino effect that would topple tipping points in other parts of the world as well, sharply accelerating environmental crises and doing irreversible harm to the planet.

Tipping points in the global climate system including melting glaciers, collapsing ice sheets, forest dieback, rising sea levels, and altering monsoons have drawn a lot more attention recently.

Each of these switches has the potential to significantly increase the temperature on our planet, resulting in a "hothouse Earth" with permanent and disastrous consequences.

The global greenhouse effect ties them all together, but it's unclear how they will ultimately crumble in the event of a climate emergency.

The most recent research focuses on the tipping point of the Amazon rainforest and some of the linkages it has with other local climatic systems.

An international team of climate experts has made a connection between the disappearance of trees in the Amazon and rising temperatures in Tibet and the West Antarctic ice sheet using historical data from 1979 to 2019.

The relationship was strongly correlated with contemporary temperature changes, according to the data when it was plugged into a model of the global climate system.

Less precipitation in Tibet and West Antarctica was connected with periods of increased rainfall in the Amazon.

The Tibetan Plateau's snow cover has been melting at an Arctic-like rate since 2008.

The Plateau, which has been referred to as the third pole of the planet, is significant for both world water storage and climate.

If the new study is accurate, deforestation halfway across the world may be partially to blame for Tibet's loss of snow cover. According to the authors, the area is currently functioning very near to an often-overlooked tipping point.

The authors state that their paradigm "highlights the potential predictability of cascading tipping dynamics as well as the linkability of tipping elements."

Nearly 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) connect Antarctica, Tibet, and the Amazon, and it seems to be supported by powerful ocean currents and westerly winds.

The National Physical Laboratory of the United Kingdom's Valerie Livina, a climate scientist, concurs that the models exhibit "strong correlations across long distances" in her evaluation of the research for Nature.

"This is the first time that the theory of complex networks has been applied in the context of tipping points, and the synergy of the two research areas provides an important insight into the global climate dynamics," adds Livina.

"This work opens a new field of global tipping point analysis."

Future models will still need to take a lot more complexity into account, though.

Beyond Tibet and Antarctica, the Amazon is affected by deforestation. According to earlier research, the Amazon's tree-dependent climate may have an influence on Caribbean coral reefs, lessen snowfall in North America's Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains, and even cause a severe drought on the west coast.

The climatic systems of the globe are interdependent. After all, the globe is little.

The study was published in Nature Climate Change.