Britain Funds Landmark Amazon Rainforest Experiment to Study Carbon Dioxide Impact on Trees

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Britain Funds Landmark Amazon Rainforest Experiment to Study Carbon Dioxide Impact on Trees

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The British government has announced new funding for a groundbreaking scientific endeavor in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, as reported by Reuters on May 25. The project aims to study the effects of increasing carbon dioxide levels on trees. Foreign Secretary James Cleverley visited the site near Manaus, where scientists are constructing numerous towers to release carbon dioxide into the forest canopy and observe how the plants absorb it. Known as AmazonFACE (Free-Air CO2 Enrichment), the experiment will provide valuable insights into how the tropical forest responds to elevated carbon dioxide levels, a key greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. In addition to raising temperatures, increased carbon dioxide can act as a fertilizer for plants, potentially affecting the water cycle and influencing the rainforest’s resilience to climate change in the future.

The project involves collaboration between scientists from the National Institute for Amazonian Research, the University of Campinas in Brazil, and the British Met Office. The British government has contributed GBP7.3m (USD9.2m) to the initiative, supplementing the 32 million reais in Brazilian funding. The results obtained from the experiment, starting in 2024, will be shared with the global scientific community, enhancing our understanding of how the world’s largest tropical forest sequesters carbon and revealing its vulnerability to climate change. This effort aligns with Britain’s commitment to addressing deforestation and supporting sustainability projects in the Amazon, as evidenced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent pledge of GBP80m to the Amazon Fund. To strengthen climate cooperation, Cleverley will also launch a climate partnership with Brazil during his visit. The Amazon rainforest plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change due to its substantial capacity for absorbing greenhouse gases, and Brazil is home to approximately 60% of this vital ecosystem.