Amazon fires 'quicken Andean glacier melt'
Fires in the Amazon rainforest are likely to increase the rate of melting of Andean glaciers, potentially disrupting water supply for tens of millions of people, scientists said on Thursday.
Images of smoke-filled horizons from blazes burning out of control across the Amazon basin made headlines around the world earlier this year.
The fires are started deliberately, often by farmers clearing land for grazing or crops, and are made significantly worse by deforestation -- a phenomenon currently at its highest level in a decade.
A team of researchers in Brazil studied the effect that smoke from the fires might have on glaciers in the Andes -- prevailing winds carry dust particles hundreds of kilometres, allowing them to be trapped in snow and ice.
Based on observations and modelling of fires between 2007-2010 -- a peak period -- the team found that aerosols from burning had the potential to increase glacier melting by darkening their surface colour.
Pollutants such as black carbon and dust lodged in the ice reduce the glacier's ability to reflect sunlight -- known as its albedo -- speeding the rates of melting by up to 14 percent.
More than 75 million people rely on water from Andean glaciers, including farmers in the region, meaning the seasonal melt is vital for food supply.
Faster melting could therefore shorten crop-growing periods, limit supplies of drinking water and eventually lead to conflicts over the dwindling resources, said the authors of the study, published in Nature Scientific Reports.
This cannot be considered a regional issue, said Newton de Magalhaes Neto, from Rio de Janeiro State University's Institute of Geography.
Instead it has social implications at a continental scale.
And there is likely to be a correlation between deforestation, where vast swathes of land are razed to grow crops or raise cattle, and glacier melt rates, as global food demand rises.
Considering the proximity of the Amazon basin to the tropical Andean glaciers and the dimensions of Amazonian biomass burning we expect greater melt rates as more Amazon gets deforested, Neto told AFP.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in September warned that glaciers were losing 280 billion tonnes of ice every year, contributing 35 percent of sea level rises.
Neto said the main threat to the Andean glaciers was still climate change, as warmer oceans would contribute to the Amazon drying out, meaning fires would spread further.
(2019/12/02 08:43)Click Here for Japanese Translation
AFP-JIJI PRESS NEWS JOURNAL
- 12/09 14:40 'Star Trek' actor Rene Auberjonois dead at age 79
- 12/09 14:09 Russia to discover sporting fate as WADA meets
- 12/09 11:43 'Sesame Street' puppeteer Caroll Spinney -- aka Big Bird -- dies at 85
- 12/09 11:35 Pearl Harbor veteran interred on sunken ship
- 12/09 11:25 Man eats $120,000 piece of art -- a banana taped to wall
- 12/09 11:19 Rising US rap artist Juice WRLD dies at 21-- reports
- 12/06 12:18 Wanted Indian guru resurfaces to announce new cosmic country
- 12/06 09:24 TikTok drops 'blunt' cyberbullying policy
- 12/06 09:13 France pledges hate crime office after Jewish cemetery desecrated
- 12/06 09:04 Sun yields its secrets to Parker Solar Probe
- 12/06 08:43 S.Africa's Tutu hospitalised for 'infection'
- 12/06 08:35 Instagram to require birth dates in move to block underage use
- 12/05 13:00 New York considers 'virginity test' ban after rapper sparks uproar
- 12/05 09:15 Early cholesterol treatment lowers heart disease risk-- study
- 12/05 09:06 Protests send Hong Kongers to Taiwan in search of new lives
- 12/05 08:51 Aegean volunteers battle to turn plastic waste tide
- 12/05 08:42 Scientists slam Chinese CRISPR babies research after manuscript released
- 12/05 08:29 Scientists search the wild for food plant genes
- 12/04 10:49 Rare Gauguin fetches 9.5 mn euros at Paris auction
- 12/04 09:54 India gangrape protests mount as schoolgirl killed
- 12/04 09:24 Greek hologram billionaire told to pay $58m in harassment case
- 12/04 09:13 Nepal's mass animal slaughter begins despite outcry
- 12/04 09:00 Drones show Greenland ice sheet fracturing in real time
- 12/04 08:50 English club set to bamboo-zle the opposition
- 12/03 10:42 Prince Andrew accuser slams 'ridiculous excuses'
- 12/03 09:37 Hot weather linked to rise in early childbirth-- study
- 12/03 09:17 Malaysia slams tattoo expo as 'porn' over half-naked pics
- 12/03 09:03 China introduces mandatory face scans for phone users
- 12/03 08:55 Toxin-laced bubbles cause pollution hazard on Indian beach
- 12/03 08:45 Fury over Charlie Hebdo cartoons on French army deaths
- 12/02 13:10 UN chief says humanity's 'war against nature' must stop
- 12/02 09:41 Hillsborough disaster commander cleared of manslaughter
- 12/02 09:18 In US, climate anxiety churns up psychological storm
- 12/02 09:01 Zimbabwe facing 'man-made' starvation, UN expert warns
- 12/02 08:54 Fragment of Jesus' manger arrives in Bethlehem
- 12/02 08:43 Amazon fires 'quicken Andean glacier melt'