Media Release


Environment: Long-term decline of the Amazon carbon sink (N&V) *IMAGES*

 Nature  Environmental studies


    London: Wednesday 18 March 2015 18:00 (GMT) New York: Wednesday 18 March 2015 14:00 (EDT) Tokyo: Thursday 19 March 2015 03:00 (JST) Sydney: Thursday 19 March 2015 05:00 (AEDT) The amount of carbon taken up annually by the Amazon rainforest has declined by almost a third in the last decade, a study in this week’s


reports. Tropical rainforests, such as those in the Amazon, absorb and store large amounts of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and therefore have a role in regulating the climate. The observed reduced capacity for carbon uptake in the Amazon may have implications for future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and needs to be accounted for in climate models. Forests can store carbon in the form of biomass found in growing tree stems, new leaves and roots, and in soil organic matter. One of the largest vegetation carbon pools on Earth is the Amazon, but there is uncertainty in how the region will respond to future changes in climate and atmospheric composition. To examine biomass changes that are currently occurring and to gain insights about what to expect in the future, Roel Brienen and colleagues analyse three decades worth of data from 321 plots in the Amazon forest. They observe a slow-down in forest carbon uptake that seems to be associated with both a recent levelling-off of plant growth rate and increasing biomass mortality. The authors suggest that increasing mortality may be driven by climate variability or changes in growth rate that affect tree lifespans.

Article and author details

Long-term decline of the Amazon carbon sink

Corresponding Author

Roel Brienen (University of Leeds, UK) Email: [email protected]

, Tel: +44 113 34 33381

News & Views Author

Lars Hedin (Princeton University, NJ, USA) Email: [email protected]



Online paper* * Please link to the article in online versions of your report (the URL will go live after the embargo ends).

IMAGES Image 1

Caption: Amazon canopy at dawn, Brazil. Credit: Peter van der Sleen

Image 2

Caption: Sunrise over madre de dios river, Peru. Credit: Roel Brienen

Image 3

Caption: Amazon forest from tower. Credit: Roel Brienen

Image 4

Caption: Increasing lianas may be one reason for the observed increase in tree death. Credit: Yadvinder Mahli

Image 5

Caption: Flying buttresses prevent tree wind-throw, Colombia. Credit: Peter Vitzum