Yadvinder Malhi et al
February 13, 2009
We examine the evidence for the possibility that 21st-century climate change may cause a large-scale “dieback” or degradation of Amazonian rainforest. We employ a new framework for evaluating the rainfall regime of tropical forests and from this deduce precipitation-based boundaries for current forest viability. We then examine climate simulations by 19 global climate models (GCMs) in this context and find that most tend to underestimate current rainfall. GCMs also vary greatly in their projections of future climate change in Amazonia. We attempt to take into account the differences between GCM-simulated and observed rainfall regimes in the 20th century. Our analysis suggests that dry-season water stress is likely to increase in E. Amazonia over the 21st century, but the region tends toward a climate more appropriate to seasonal forest than to savanna...