According to the Global Drought Monitor, a classification system developed by the UK's University College London, by October 2010, large swathes of the Amazon rainforest were experiencing a category known as exceptional drought, which goes beyond even extreme drought.
The 2010 drought was widespread, with most of the Amazon region receiving less than 75% of normal rainfall between 1 July and 30 September, and, in many cases, as little as 25%. Such arid conditions, which normally occur once every 100 years, in this case were observed only five years after a previously severe dry spell in 2005, as well as one just seven years before that in 1998.
Besides the dryness was a record number of fires. Along the edge of the forest in Peru and Bolivia were more fires this year than any year on record, with the Xingu indigenous region seeing a total of 19,000 blazes compared to 5,000 the previous year as well as reports of substantial damage to plants in the normally wet areas.
The fires went hand in hand with extremely low water flows, such as the Amazon tributary River Negro, which hit an all-time low just one year after a never- before-seen high level occurred in the wake of devastating floods.
Scientists are concerned that these patterns are pointing to alarming die-offs of the Amazon as the forest dries out. Dr. Greg Asner, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, states that along with the melting polar ice, which for many symbolizes the effects of climate change, should also be considered the drying up and burning of the world's largest rain forest, whose survival is equally threatened.
As observed by forest expert Dr. Oliver Phillips of the University of Leeds in the UK, the Amazon may be reaching a tipping point. He stated, “Every ecosystem has some point beyond which it can't go. The concern now is that parts of the Amazon may be approaching that threshold.”
Scientists at University College London, Dr. Phillips, Dr. Leeds and other researchers, we appreciate all your contributions to this informative report, despite its disturbing implications.
May we all act now to protect the Amazon rainforest and all natural habitate, so that future generations may also enjoy the beauty of our rich creation. Supreme Master Ching Hai has often discussed the crucial issue of climate change impacts on rainforests, including the Amazon, as in an October 2009 videoconference in Germany.