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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  14 Nov 2020

14 Nov 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

CO2 fertilization effect can cause rainfall decrease as strong as large-scale deforestation in the Amazon

Gilvan Sampaio1, Marília Shimizu1, Carlos A. Guimarães-Júnior1, Felipe Alexandre1, Manoel Cardoso2, Tomas F. Domingues3, Anja Rammig4, Celso von Randow2, Luiz F. C. Rezende2, and David M. Lapola5 Gilvan Sampaio et al.
  • 1Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Cachoeira Paulista SP, 12630-000, Brazil
  • 2Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, São José dos Campos SP, 12227-010, Brazil
  • 3Departamento de Biologia, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto SP, 14040-901 Brazil
  • 4Land Surface-Atmosphere Interactions, Technical University of Munich, Freising, 85354, Germany
  • 5Centro de Pesquisas Meteorológicas e Climáticas Aplicadas à Agricultura, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas SP, 13083-886, Brazil

Abstract. Climate in the Amazon region is particularly sensitive to surface processes and properties such as heat fluxes and vegetation coverage. Rainfall is a key expression of land surface-atmosphere interactions in the region due to its strong dependence on forest transpiration. While a large number of past studies have shown the impacts of large-scale deforestation on annual rainfall, studies on the isolated effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration (eCO2) on canopy transpiration and rainfall are scarcer. Here for the first time we make a systematic comparison of the plant physiological effects of eCO2 and deforestation on Amazon rainfall. We use the CPTEC-Brazilian Atmospheric Model (BAM) with dynamic vegetation under a 1.5xCO2 and a 100 % substitution of the forest by pasture grassland, with all other conditions held similar between the two scenarios. We find that both scenarios result in equivalent average annual rainfall reductions (Physiology: −252 mm, −12 %; Deforestation: −292 mm, −13 %) that are well above observed Amazon rainfall interannual variability of 5.1 %. Rainfall decrease in the two scenarios are caused by a reduction of approximately 20 % of canopy transpiration, but for different reasons: eCO2-driven reduction of stomatal conductance in Physiology; decreased leaf area index of pasture (−66 %) and its dry-season lower surface vegetation coverage in Deforestation. Walker circulation is strengthened in the two scenarios (with enhanced convection over the Andes and a weak subsidence branch over east Amazon) but, again, through different mechanisms: enhanced west winds from the Pacific and reduced easterlies entering the basin in Physiology, and strongly increased easterlies in the Deforestation. Although our results for the Deforestation scenario are in agreement with previous observational and modelling studies, the lack of direct field-based ecosystem-level experimental evidence on the effect of eCO2 in moisture fluxes of tropical forests confers a considerable level of uncertainty to any projections on the physiological effect of eCO2 on Amazon rainfall. Furthermore, our results highlight the responsibilities of both Amazonian and non-Amazonian countries to mitigate potential future climatic change and its impacts in the region driven either by local deforestation or global CO2 emissions.

Gilvan Sampaio et al.

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Gilvan Sampaio et al.

Gilvan Sampaio et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The impact of large-scale deforestation and the physiological effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on Amazon rainfall are systematically compared in this study. Our results are remarkable in showing that the two disturbances cause equivalent rainfall decrease, though through different causal mechanisms. These results highlight the importance of not only curbing regional deforestation but also reducing global CO2 emissions to avoid climatic changes in the Amazon.
The impact of large-scale deforestation and the physiological effects of elevated atmospheric...