Playing Russian roulette with the rainforest

23rd February 2011

New research shows that the 2010 Amazon drought may have been even more devastating to the region’s rainforests than the unusual 2005 drought, which was previously billed as a one-in-100 year event. The research, co-led by Dr Simon Lewis of the University of Leeds and Brazilian scientist Dr Paulo Brando, suggests that if extreme droughts like these become more frequent, the days of the Amazon rainforest acting as a natural buffer to man-made carbon emissions may be numbered. Dr Lewis, quoted in a press release from the University of Leeds, says: "If greenhouse gas emissions contribute to Amazon droughts that in turn cause forests to release carbon, this feedback loop would be extremely concerning. Put more starkly, current emissions pathways risk playing Russian roulette with the world's largest rainforest."