Amazon Fire Melts Glaciers more than 1000 Miles Away
A new study finds that the Amazon rainforests fire increased the melting of glaciers in the Andes. An increase in deforestation could cause further melting, warns scientists.
It was found in this found that the soot from the forest fires of Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil have caused a 14 percent increase in the melting of the Andes glaciers.
The main reason for this process in the direction of the wind between August to October. This is the time when most of the fires occur and during this time the wind carrying soot moves towards the northern area of the mountain ranges where it lands as snow.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Newton de Magalhaes Neto explains, ” Snow that is darkened by dust particles reflecting less light or by black carbon particles has the potential to cause more glacier melts.”
In 2016, the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul had a separate study in which it showed that nearly half of some of the areas covered by glaciers in the Andes have melted since 1970.
This research study is based on a computer model of the southwestern burning parts of Amazonia. At Rio de Janeiro State University, a biologist, Dr. Neto, made use of the data on wildfires that happened between 2000 and 2016along with the data on the smoke plumes movements, snowfall, rain, and the glacier melts.
Investigation on the albedo effect reduction was done by the scientists, whereby the light reflected by the light surfaces was more than that of the light reflected from the dark surfaces, as it had the presence of dust and black carbon in the snow.
The annual melting of glaciers was increased by 11 to 13 percent due to the high concentration of dust (about 100 parts per million(ppm), with the presence of black carbon rising the melting to 12 to 14 percent.
Dr. Neto says, ” As per the study, the dust content in the snow shows the impact of Amazon biomass burning.”
People burning trees for agricultural land is believed to be the main reason for the increase in the Amazon rainforest fire.
“There are chances of such fires to be increased in the future. The agriculture lands and deforestation could expand due to the pressure in demand for global food. Eventually, this can result in an increase of carbon dioxide and black carbon emissions, which will have a major impact on the Andean glaciers causing glacier melts,” warns Dr. Neto.
The effects of burning trees, on the tropical Andean glaciers of South America, are being analyzed for the first time in this study.
“The burning of biomass over southwestern Amazonia cannot be seen just as a regional issue as it has social implications at the continental scale and using water from many Andean communities becomes a vulnerability,” added Dr. Neto.
Even though the dry season in Brazil is when wildfires often occur, there are estimated from satellite data showing that the rate of deforestation increased up to 90 percent in June and spiked to almost 280 percent in July when compared with the same months in the previous year.
Bazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro is blamed by many environmental groups for relaxing policies allowing clearance of forests for mining and farming.
According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, every minute, more than a football pitch worth of the Amazon rainforest is wiped out.
Scientific Reports journal published this study.