Biogeosciences Editors' Highlights

Ocean Wind Satellites Observe an Amazonian Drought

Satellites designed to observe ocean winds can also be used to map both forest structure and water content, allowing researchers to disentangle factors of carbon loss due to drought in the Amazon.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences


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A number of recent studies have identified declines on Amazonian forest carbon pools during periods of drought. However, whether this decline is due to changes in forest structure or from water limitation driven declines in forest carbon uptake rate is hotly debated. Shi et al. [2017] took data from a satellite that normally uses microwave radar scattering to detect ocean currents and surface winds instead to map changes in forest structure and leaf water content. These observations were used to calibrate a computer-based climate model. This model shows carbon losses and recovery post-drought were driven by structural changes, such as loss of leaf carbon pool, with limited impact from changes in photosynthesis rates arising from limited water availability.

Citation: Shi, M., Liu, J., Zhao, M., Yu, Y., & Saatchi, S. [2017]. Mechanistic processes controlling persistent changes of forest canopy structure after 2005 Amazon drought. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 122. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JG003966

—Ankur Rashmikant Desai, Editor, JGR: Biogeosciences

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