An international study carried out in the Brazilian Amazon shows that fires caused by droughts are complicating the achievements in reducing CO2 emissions in the region.
The research, published Tuesday in the journal Nature, developed by scientists in Brazil, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, found the existence of a significant change in the origin of carbon emissions in the Brazilian Amazon between 2003 and 2015.
Before the study, scientists estimated that fires related to the deforestation process in the Amazon area were the main exporters of CO2 to the atmosphere. But the study shows that the lack of rainfall is the main threat given the progress made in reducing emissions in South America, in the forestry field.
During the study, satellite data and greenhouse gas records were analyzed to assess the impact of droughts on the incidence of fires between 2003 and 2015.
"We have shown that, although there has been a 76% drop in deforestation rates during the last 13 years, the incidence of fires increased by 36% during the 2015 drought compared to the previous 12 years", explain the scientists.
They add a piece of information: during the drought of 2015, “the highest proportion of active fires with respect to deforestation ”, a situation that affected an“ area of 799,293" square kilometers.
Likewise, they estimated that, in drought years, emissions caused exclusively by forest fires are more than half that caused by deforestation of ancient forests.
The researchers emphasize that "carbon emission records" that serve as the basis for the design of environmental policies must take into account "the significant" amount of emissions caused by fires "not linked to the deforestation process."
With information from: