Amazon Rainforest Destruction Could Significantly Reduce Snowfall In The Western United States

Amazon Rainforest Destruction Could Significantly Reduce Snowfall In The Western United States

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Amazon Rainforest Destruction Could Significantly Reduce Snowfall In The Western United States

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Medgivy Fig5c West

(All images by David Medvigy, Department of Geosciences)

A new study by Princeton University researchers reports that the total deforestation of the Amazon may significantly reduce snowfall in the western United States. The report, published in the Journal of Climate, says that if the Amazon is stripped bare it could mean 20 percent less rain for the coastal Northwest and a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack.

“Previous research has shown that deforestation will likely produce dry air over the Amazon. Using high-resolution climate simulations, the researchers are the first to find that the atmosphere’s normal weather-moving mechanics would create a ripple effect that would move that dry air directly over the western United States from December to February.

Specifically, a denuded Amazon would develop a weather cycle consisting of abnormally dry air in the sun-scorched northern Amazon around the equator weighted by wetter air in the cooler south. Research has speculated that this pattern would be similar to the warm-water climate pattern El Niño, which during the winter months brings heavy precipitation to southern California and the Sierra Nevada region while drying out the Pacific Northwest.

The Princeton-led researchers found that the Amazon pattern would be subject to the same meandering high-altitude winds known as Rossby waves that distribute the El Niño system worldwide from its source over the Pacific Ocean. Rossby waves are instrumental forces in Earth’s weather that move east or west across the planet, often capturing the weather of one region — such as chill Arctic air — and transporting it to another. Because the Amazon pattern forms several thousand miles to the southeast from El Niño, the researchers report, the Rossby waves that put the rainy side of El Niño over southern California would instead subject that region to the dry end of the Amazon pattern. The pattern’s rainy portion would be over the Pacific Ocean south of Mexico.

Medgivy Amazon America

Research suggests that deforestation will likely produce a weather cycle over the Amazon consisting of abnormally dry air in the sun-scorched northern Amazon around the equator weighted by wetter air in the cooler south (left). The Princeton-led researchers found that the Amazon pattern would be subject to meandering high-altitude winds known as Rossby waves that move east or west across the planet (center). The Rossby waves would move the dry end of the Amazon pattern directly over the western United States from December to February, while the pattern’s rainy portion would be over the Pacific Ocean south of Mexico (right).”

Keep Reading @ princeton.edu

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