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Destruction of an Atlantic rain forest fragment raises the local temperature

Publicado em 13 janeiro 2020

A study conducted in Brazil by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) and the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) shows that if 25% of an Atlantic rainforest fragment that is approximately 1 hectare is deforested, then the local temperature will increase by 1 °C. Clear-cutting the entire fragment would increase the local temperature by as much as 4 °C. The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

"We were able to detect the warming effects of the climate due to the deforestation of Atlantic rainforest fragments, of which there are many in Southeast Brazil," Humberto Ribeiro da Rocha, principal investigator of the study, told. Rocha is a professor at the University of São Paulo Institute of Astronomy, Geophysics and Atmospheric Sciences (IAG-USP).

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The investigation was conducted under the aegis of two projects supported by São Paulo Research Foundation - FAPESP, one associated with its Research Program on Global Climate Change (RPGCC) and the other with its Research Program on Biodiversity Characterization, Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use (BIOTA-FAPESP).

According to Rocha, scientific evidence is already available that shows that the destruction of tropical forests leads to warmer air at a local scale, but this evidence is based on measurements taken in large areas, mainly by research conducted in the Amazon.

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"No one had ever produced detailed information on the deforestation of small fragments or studies that take into account different levels of anthropization [transformation of the environment by human activity]," said Rocha, who is a member of the RPGCC's steering committee.

To fill this research gap, researchers analyzed the relationship between the degree of deforestation and local temperature increases in Atlantic rainforest remnants located in Serra do Mar, a mountain range that stretches along the northern coast of São Paulo state.

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Land surface temperature (LST) was estimated using heat flux data continuously recorded around the...

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