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Blowin' in the Wind, Issue #077 Amazon Rainforest Climate history - June 1, 2010
May 31, 2010
About the Amazon Rainforest Climate
The Amazon rainforest climate began with the forest itself hundreds of millions of years ago. Originally part of Pangaea, the Amazon Basin formed when the continents began breaking into the landmasses of Africa and South America.
Tropical temperatures started to moderate somewhat when the Atlantic Ocean rifted between these two continents. A warmer and moister climate was born in the Amazon Basin, and that lasted for millions of years up until the fall of the Dinosaurs. This global events that produced the Amazon Rainforest and an even wetter climate within a narrow span in tropical latitudes. Then the climate for tropical rainforest growth would expand into the ancient climates of the Middle Miocene era after the last glacial event took place. However, at this time the climate had less rain than it does in present day 21st century.
The Effects of MankindHumans began habitation in the Amazonia region nearly 11,000 years ago and some indigenous tribes still live there without any contact with the outside world. And there are areas that have still not been researched or explored in any great detail.
Many of the known inhabitants live on the outskirts of what used to be forest. Farmers and ranchers have modified the land to bear their agricultural products and in order to get access to that land many have cleared parts of the Amazon Rainforest. This forestary did cause changes in the climate. When will the deforestation stop? Will it help now?
Climate TaxonomyFormally, the Amazon air belongs to the tropical category, the Köppen Group Af group of eco-regions. This classification is widely accepted in the making of climate maps worldwide. In this model the vegetation of a region is the determining factor on what classification the area will attain. The "A" in the code denotes that the region remains humid year-round with the average mean temperature at 18°C and not much higher than 34°C, while the "f" shows us that the place receives a very ample rainfall throughout the year. This classification has been assigned to various land areas between 25° north and south of the equator.
What this means is that the Amazon Rainforest climate is normally capable of nearly 80 inches of rainfall annually. The thousands of flora species within the rain forests have adapted themselves to withstand this rainfall through built-in natural methods of protection such as waxy leaves or leaves that can gather and store the water in little micro lakes that host microcosms of animal or insect life. Most of the life in the Amazon Rainforest actually exists within the canopy itself.
At ground level the soil is not deep, and this causes the trees to grow tall and branch out where the sun can reach the leaves at around 100-130 feet above the floor. This biome has been largely untouched for millions of years and it is estimated that 90% of plants and animals live in the upper forest in a symbiotic relationship, with an interdependence on each other for survival. In the entire forest there are nearly 100,000 tree and plant species as well as millions of insects. The plants include several hundred species that are beneficial for pharmaceutical purposes, and that can include cancer cures.
What? No, I didn't forget about the deforestation comment. What could happen if the Amazon Rainforest were continually depleted? All of what has been mentioned here just might be lost. Health would take a downward turn, with soils turning to dust, and some models state that it could result in more sand than the Sahara Desert holds today. In this scenario, temperatures would rise, and with massive plant extinction, carbon dioxide levels could rise and the alarming global warming predictions we have seen could take place. This is a worst-case scenario and a more likely outcome would be less severe.
The Amazon Rainforest climate is changing constantly. We must do all we can to protect it. This region generates more than half the oxygen we breathe. The whole planet will see the effects of Amazonia's changes.
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