A recent study in the peer-reviewed journal Ecohydrology headed by University of Kansas researcher Gabriel de Oliveira gives important context to the fires burning big swaths of the Amazon today, most of which were set intentionally by farmers and ranchers to convert forest into land suitable for grazing animals or growing crops. The researchers sought to discover how these changes to land cover affect the exchange of water and heat between the surface of the Amazon and the atmosphere overhead.
"This is the first study to examine the biosphere-atmosphere interactions in the Amazon with such high spatial resolution satellite imagery," said de Oliveira, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Geography & Atmospheric Science at KU. "We tried to understand the impacts of land-cover changes and deforestation in general. When you clear-cut the forests, and you convert it either to pasture or agriculture -- or cut the forest, but for some reason don't plant anything and then have a type of vegetation called 'secondary succession' -- our idea was to try to understand how that impacts energy, like the radiative fluxes and water fluxes, or evaporation in general."
Paper - Oliveira - Colleagues - Information - Satellites
In the paper, de Oliveira and his colleagues analyzed information from both satellites in space and weather stations on the ground in the Amazon. With data from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) and Large?Scale Biosphere?Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA), they examined surface energy and water changes over different land?cover types in one wet year and one drought year in eastern Rondônia state, Brazil. The team also found statistically significant differences in several important measures prior to and after one year of deforestation.
"Using NASA satellite images with high spatial resolution (15m) obtained by the ASTER sensor in Rondônia state, in the south-western Brazilian Amazon, we found that deforestation and consequent transition...
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