Brazil sets up a huge Amazon lab to predict rainforest’s future amid global warming
Manaus, Brazil, May 23 (EFE).- In the middle of the Amazon jungle, where light has to do somersaults to sneak through the trees, Brazil is building a huge open-air structure that will help predict the future of the rainforest amid global warming.
Located about 80 kilometers from Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas, the AmazonFACE project will measure the capacity of the forest to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), the greenhouse gas driving climate change, as it increases in the atmosphere, and the impact that rising emissions will have on the ecology and functioning of the Amazon, as well as any socioeconomic implications.
Considered the largest of its kind, the program was announced on Tuesday by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Minister James Cleverly during his visit to Brazil as the UK is one of the initiative’s financial backers.
The project will use Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) technology, raising the concentration of the gas in an area of tree canopy and then measuring the plants’ response.
The experiment will test the existence, magnitude and duration of the fertilizing effect of atmospheric CO2 in the forest.
In a positive scenario, this may mean that the vegetation strengthens or grows, but if the impact is negative, and the gas absorption happens on a larger scale than it is currently, as is expected to happen in the coming years due to global warming, it can impact the water cycle, creating less rain.
David Lapola, a researcher at the University of Campinas (Unicamp) and one of the coordinators of the program, said the Amazon affects other parts of the planet.
“Depending on what happens here, other parts of the planet end up being affected, mainly in South America, in southern Brazil, in Uruguay and Argentina, because we export rain there,” he said.
The entire scientific structure will have six rings, each made up of 16 35-meter-tall towers (the equivalent of a 12-story building).
Each ring will have CO2 tanks and piping and control systems. The monitoring system, which uses solar energy, will capture data on radiation, humidity, precipitation and CO2.
The first two rings should start functioning towards the end of the year, with the total structure to be completed by mid-2024.
AmazonFACE is a research program of the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, coordinated by the National Institute for Amazonian Research and Unicamp, with the support of the British government.
The UK is contributing £7.3 million ($9 million), adding to 32 million reais ($6.5 million) in Brazilian funding. EFE