Claim: Due to landscape fragmentation, Brazil's rainforests are releasing more carbon dioxide than previously thought

Effect has so far been missing in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

Because of the deforestation of tropical rainforests in Brazil, significantly more carbon has been lost than was previously assumed. As scientists of the Hemholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) write in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the effect of the degradation has been underestimated in fragmented forest areas, since it was hitherto not possible to calculate the loss of the biomass at the forest edges and the higher emission of carbon dioxide. The UFZ scientists have now closed this knowledge gap. According to their calculations, the forest fragmentation results in up to a fifth more carbon dioxide being emitted by the vegetation.

Shown are forest fragments of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest in the North-East of Brazil, surround by sugar cane plantations.

Photo: Mateus de Dantas de Paula


To estimate the additional carbon emissions at the forest edges, the UFZ scientists developed a new approach that integrates the results from remote sensing, ecology and forest modelling. For their study, they initially modelled the percentage loss of carbon in forest border after the deforestation of the surrounding area.

These losses of the differently fragmented and differently sized forest areas were determined in comparison to large, unchanged forests in the tropical rainforests in the Amazon and in the Brazilian coastal tropical forest Mata Atlântica (Brazilian Atlantic Forest). The scientists defined a strip of 100 meters that runs from the edge of the forest into the inner forest as the peripheral area. The consequences for the trees at the newly created edges of the forest are known. The climate conditions change significantly: The sun’s rays are stronger, the temperatures rise and there are areas where the wind is provided with a more effective target. This means that stress increases for trees in peripheral areas. Especially the larger specimens die off. “Tree mortality increases, so that they can’t store as much carbon as healthy trees in the centre of the forest, the core area” says Dr. Sandro Pütz, the main author of the study. In order to calculate these degradation effects, the UFZ scientists used the forest simulation model FORMIND. This makes it possible to determine the percentage loss of carbon of forest fragments of different sizes. According to this, the percentage loss of stored biomass rises in inverse proportion to the size of the remaining rest of the forest. It is only when a forest area of 10,000 hectares is reached that the percentage loss recedes to almost zero depending on the shape of the forest fragment.

The UFZ scientists also used satellite images to analyse how the tropical rainforest is spatially distributed in the Amazon region and the coastal tropical forest. To take as many small forest areas as possible into account, they worked with a very high resolution of up to approx. 30 meters: “In science, this is the processing limit, since the data volumes for the Amazon are very large,” says UFZ scientist Prof. Dr. Andreas Huth. According to the records, the coastal tropical forest with a total of eleven percent of its original surface area only takes up 157,000 square kilometres and is split into 245,173 fragments. 90 percent of the forest remains are smaller than 100 hectares, which means that they have very many edges. A total of 46 percent of the forests in the Mata Atlântica lie in these peripheral areas. This has certain consequences: Due to the changed microclimate at the forest edges, more than 68 million tonnes of carbon are lost in ten years. “This is an enormous loss in relation to the small total area of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest,” Pütz concludes. The 3.1 million sqkm of the Brazilian part of the rainforest in the Amazon consists of over 300,000 forest fragments. However, the peripheral areas only amount to about seven percent of the entire area. This means that the additional loss of carbon in the entire rainforest of the Amazon due to the peripheral effects amounts to approx. 600 million tonnes in ten years.

For the first time, the UFZ researchers also calculated how much this border effect would affect the storage of carbon in tropical forests worldwide. Currently, there are 830 billion tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere. Every year, the carbon increases by four billion tonnes. A quarter of this is caused by deforestation around the globe. Because the calculations of the UFZ model indicate that ten percent of the forest areas in the tropics worldwide lie at the edges of forests, these degradation effects result in an increase of up to 0.2 billion tonnes of carbon getting into the atmosphere per year. This share has so far not been included in the carbon balance calculations. “It is a forgotten process in the global carbon circulation of the vegetation,” Huth states. This aspect has been not directly included in the calculations of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). “However, this effect should urgently be taken into account,” the ecologist demands.

The UFZ scientists’ results are also interesting for practical aspects in climate protection policy. On the one hand it makes sense to require a minimum size of at least around 10,000 hectares for forest island areas because the relative loss of carbon is only minimal at the edges at that size. On the other hand, the peripheral areas and not the interior parts of forests should be used for forestry or agriculture in future, since the loss of biomass in these areas does not have as much of an effect. For the first time, this examination shows a methodical way in which ecological effects in small areas can be used for large-scale environmental assessments. Additional studies are planned.

Benjamin Haerdle


Sandro Pütz, Jürgen Groeneveld, Klaus Henle, Christoph Knogge, Alexandre Camargo Martensen, Markus Metz, Jean Paul Metzger, Milton Cezar Ribeiro, Dantas de Paula, M. & Andreas Huth.

Long-term carbon loss in fragmented Neotropical forests. Nature Communications 5:5037 doi: 10.1038/ncomms6037 (2014).

(if anyone can find the paper, please leave a note in commenta – Anthony)

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October 7, 2014 9:12 am

Not surprise here; “green” renewable ethanol for fuel causes more CO2 emission than just burning plain gasoline, that would run a vehicle more efficiently.
It also causes more deforestation of the world’s green humid jungles, and leads to more species extinction.

A C Osborn
Reply to  Andres Valencia
October 7, 2014 9:24 am

Yes that should be a Lose/Lose/Lose to a “Green” or Warmist, More CO2, Less CO2 sequestration and Loss of habitat.
Green Madness.

Reply to  Andres Valencia
October 7, 2014 3:51 pm

Can you see the irony? The picture caption says…

Shown are forest fragments of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest in the North-East of Brazil, surround by sugar cane plantations.

Then I see…

Ethanol from sugarcane in Brazil: a ‘midway’ strategy for increasing ethanol production while maximizing environmental benefits…..
[Google Scholar search snippet:
“Shown are analyses for mature Atlantic Forest and regenerating forests in combination with sugarcane“]

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Reply to  Jimbo
October 7, 2014 4:00 pm

Oh deary me. It is much worse than we thought! – September 26, 2011
Expanding ethanol threatens last remnants of Atlantic Forest
[A typical scenario in the Atlantic Forest at the Northeastern Biodiversity Corridor, where forest remants are surrounded by sugarcane plantations. Most of the remaining forest fragments are, on average, smaller than 100 ha.]
Aggressively expanding sugarcane ethanol is putting Brazil’s nearly-vanished Atlantic Forest at risk, according to an opinion piece in’s open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science. Already down to less than 12 percent of its original extent, the Atlantic Forest—home to over 7,000 species that survive no-where else—is facing a new peril from ethanol, used as an alternative to gasoline and often touted as ‘green’ or ‘environmentally-sustainable’.

David, UK
Reply to  Jimbo
October 8, 2014 12:56 pm

The irony is that the flat temps of the last 17+ years are in spite of CO2 loss to the atmosphere from rainforrests being “worse than we thought” which means the climate is even less sensitive “than we thought.”

October 7, 2014 9:13 am

Wait, does this mean somebody is going to plant some trees? It can’t be. The Global Warmists want to tax your money, pocket some, and spread the rest around. Planting trees will get in the way.

Richards in Vancouver
Reply to  Tim Benner
October 7, 2014 11:38 pm

Tim, you and Jimbo are right. It’s worse than we thought, and planting trees will make it worse yet. There’s only one possible solution: pave Brazil!
Lotsa bucks to be made that way, too.

Ed Ferreira
October 7, 2014 9:28 am

These guys want me to buy the idea that small portions of preserved rainforest are equal to zero. They seem to say that their model must be the new standard for the Brazilian people. This study and its underlying political aims seem thoroughly ridiculous to me.

Keith Willshaw
October 7, 2014 9:34 am

Are we supposed to take seriously claims such as
‘The consequences for the trees at the newly created edges of the forest are known. The climate conditions change significantly: The sun’s rays are stronger….’
‘The sun’s rays are stonger’ – really !
So who tells the sun to shine more strongly along the forest edge and how does this miraculous transformation occur ?

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Keith Willshaw
October 7, 2014 11:26 am

Relax. Poor wording is common. They know what they mean. We are supposed to figure it out!

Keith Willshaw
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
October 7, 2014 1:58 pm

Words matter, especially in what is supposed to be a scientific paper. Sloppy wording often indicates sloppy thinking,

Reply to  Keith Willshaw
October 7, 2014 1:46 pm

At least in Germany trees standing alone or on the edge of a forest will grow quicker and the biodiversity is much higher there a s in the deep forest.

Reply to  Johannes Herbst
October 8, 2014 12:16 am

Temperate deciduous forest and Tropical Rainforest are rather different you know.

October 7, 2014 9:43 am

Keith Willshaw…I am assuming the sun light reaches trees at the edge because it is not shaded by trees directly next to the edge trees they way they would be in a dense forest. Just guessing…

Reply to  J
October 7, 2014 10:01 am

Yes, J. It is the diminished shading, not more solar irradiance.

Reply to  Andres Valencia
October 7, 2014 2:36 pm

I’d like to see a rainforrest release carbon dioxide too. If I drive slower does the gas in my tank increase?

October 7, 2014 9:44 am

This study identifies deforestation as a net contributor to atm CO2. They relied on a model to obtain such results. The claims in this study do not seem verifiable without making the assumption that the forest’s edge makes an increased contribution of CO2, in comparison with the inner forest. Who can verify such an assumption?

October 7, 2014 9:47 am

the “effects” don’t indicate anything. They’re model projections. Ecologists demanding or not.

Lance Wallace
October 7, 2014 9:59 am
Lance Wallace
October 7, 2014 10:05 am
October 7, 2014 10:05 am

Repent, the end is nigh! Send us your money. It’s a familiar song. Who should I make the check out to, God, Obama, Al Gore?

October 7, 2014 10:08 am

Huh… so every hedgerow is a CO2 source. Who knew?
The closing line is particularly poignant – “Additional studies are planned.” They apparently truncated the part about ‘as soon as our grant comes through’.

October 7, 2014 10:14 am

Well, I have been in a rain forest once or twice, and I question their conclusions. Where the forest bounds on a clear area is always the most dense vegetation. Probably because there is more sunlight to encourage plant growth. Once past the edge, in the fully sunlit areas there is grass, and in the forest ground cover is typically short to non-existent. I would expect more carbon dioxide pickup at the edges because they are the densest areas of the forest, not less.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  dbakerber
October 7, 2014 11:47 am

You are 100% correct from my experience with rainforests. They are not taking any other vegetation into account at all and I highly doubt their assumption that old trees in all of these forest fragments are a dying.

Reply to  dbakerber
October 7, 2014 12:02 pm

Not just rain forests but temperate climate forests show this density of small growth and foliage at the wood’s edge.

October 7, 2014 10:32 am

Something does not seem right.
I own a managed forest on my Wisconsin dairy farm, in four parcels ranging from 30 to 60 acres each. The forest edges grow faster becuase those trees receive more sunlight. Ditto where selective logging has thinned the interior canopy. And younger trees produce more wood volume per year, which is why selective logging of the oldest every decade or two maximizes production. Finally, the plot edges do not suffer a greater rate of natural attrition. I am certain, because every time an edge tree comes down it means another barbed wire fence fix.
Maybe the Amazon rain forest is somehow different. But I tend to doubt it.
What does release carbon is clearing the forest and converting to agriculture, because soil sequestered carbon tends to be consumed. That is why tilling stubble and stover back into the soil, and speading manure, and crop rotation through nitrogen fixers (legumes, alfalfa) are all essential practices. Soil carbon loss does happen at a faster rate in the tropics, as a simple function of higher annual rates of soil microbe biological activity. That is why slash and burn then move on is a common tropical practice. Soils become too poor after just a few years without aggressive modern management practices and equipment (manure spreaders, harrows, synthetic fertilizer) that subsistence farmers usually lack.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 7, 2014 11:25 am

Which plays into my reaction – this must mean that CO2 uptake is higher than we thought, because the actual CO2 measurements are what they are. If this is true, it means that other removal mechanisms are doing even more than we had thought.

Reply to  Harold
October 7, 2014 11:49 am

Harold, I suspect you are correct. About half the uptake is terrestrial. The greening of the Sahel is evidence that as CO2 concentrations have risen, C3 plants become more bioproductive. The new book essay Carbon Pollution covers that plus agricultural crops. The other half is in the oceans. The essay Good Bad News covers a portion of that, but only a portion. My guess is one of the more permanent carbon dioxide sinks, carbonate forming marine life like coccolithophores, are also becoming more productive. All that limestone and chalk was once a ‘rain’ of dead marine planktonic life. Would be very had to measure on decadal scales.

Reply to  Harold
October 7, 2014 12:13 pm

I would add to that calcium carbonate precipitated directly from seawater. This is precipitated on the continental shelves and especially in areas known as carbonate platforms, such as the Bahamas and the Yucatan shelf. This is permanent sequestration of CO2 and belongs in the carbon cycle but is in fact incalculable.

Reply to  Harold
October 8, 2014 12:18 am

Rud Istvan, the oxygen balance shows that the net carbon balance of the biosphere is currently about 1 GtC/year and increasing:
But how that reflects the changes in real emissions from land clearing and real uptake from the increased uptake by all terrestrial plants (sea plants have abundant CO2 available) remains debatable. I did see a poster where some 1.5 GtC/year is added by land use changes, which implies that nature increased its CO2 uptake by plants to about 2.5 GtC/year:
Probably better guesswork, difficult to measure…

Reply to  Harold
October 8, 2014 8:48 am

Ferdinand, thank you for the Bender link, but once again I must complain that you are placing enormous faith in what may be the only data available, but data that is unimpressive. Their sample locations are heavily skewed to the Indian ocean and its Southern ocean counterpart and completely ignore 60 degrees of longitude including most of the Americas and the Atlantic ocean.
I am wondering how to explain their observation that O2 seasonal amplitude is much higher over the ocean than over land. You correctly mention that there is lots of molecular CO2 swimming with the plankton so one can understand a dampened carbon amplitude, but it is probably not temperature as the ocean is far more stable that way. Not much left to explain the seasonal variation except photosynthesis and if this variation is multiplied 70/30 for relative area it would mean a lot more going on in the ocean than we think.

Reply to  Harold
October 8, 2014 1:20 pm

gymnosperm, for CO2 as good as for O2, the mixing in the atmosphere is quite good and fast: a few days to a few weeks for the same latitude – altitude band, a few months for different altitude/latitude bands and 6-24 months between the two hemispheres. So it doesn’t matter much where you measure CO2 and O2, if you do that over a lot of years: the trends are the same everywhere.
The main problem for O2 measurements is the necessary accuracy: better than 1:200,000, which is at the edge of the analytical possibilities…
Most of the seasonal variability in oxygen/CO2 is from the NH extra-tropical forests, as can be seen in the opposite δ13C and CO2 changes. Much less seasonal changes in the SH, more ocean, less vegetation. The oceans add some extra O2, besides plankton growth, from the lower solubility of O2 in water at increased summer temperatures.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 8, 2014 12:26 am

There is very little soil sequestered carbon in Amazon rainforest. The ‘soil’ under the trees is mostly laterite clay or sand and there is little undergrowth. Almost the entire biomass is concentrated in the trees. By the way this almost undergrowth-free understory is not a general characteristic of tropical rainforests as many seem to think. It applies most strongly in Amazonia where soils are generally poor. For example in New Guinea with young, often volcanic soils the undergrowth is often quite literally impenetrable.

Reply to  tty
October 8, 2014 6:23 am

That is interesting, My experience is in Panama. But, I do have to point out that this study looks at Brazil, which is almost assuredly the Amazonian variety of rain forest.

October 7, 2014 11:09 am

guess we need to ban the rain forest as its purposely adding more co2 to make up for us trying to reduce it.
or something…

chris moffatt
October 7, 2014 11:14 am

So does this mean that the CO2 readings from Mauna Loa are actually too low and will have to be “homogenised” to make them agree with the true readings output by the model?

October 7, 2014 11:33 am

Maybe some of the acres of rain forest they destroy for bio-fuel crops can also be planted with wind turbines to offset the ‘extra’ CO2 and kill exotic species of birds there to ‘balance’ the eagles we’re killing here? (Too many more birds in the SH might make earth capsize like Guam if they all take off at the same time!)

October 7, 2014 1:51 pm

Models,models, models, models…..

October 7, 2014 2:59 pm

Due to the changed microclimate at the forest edges, more than 68 million tonnes of carbon are lost in ten years. “This is an enormous loss in relation to the small total area of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest,” Pütz concludes.

I recently saw some articles dated to a few years ago talking about abandoned farms in Brazil and how the are now being taken over by forest. I wonder whether this would have any offsetting effects?

Abstract – 2010?
Forest Recovery in Newly Abandoned Pastures in Southern Brazil: Implications for the Atlantic Rain Forest Resilience
…..The abandoned pastures (by periods of 8, 14, 48, 50 and 96 months) were colonized mainly by trees, animal-dispersed and pioneer species. The data showed that the forest structure was quickly changed with an increase in tree abundance, stem volume and species richness. It indicates that in low fragmented landscapes, such as the northern littoral of Parana Sate, the resilience of the Atlantic Forest is relatively high and assisted regeneration may be an option to biodiversity conservation strategies.
Der Spiegel – August 13, 2009
Is the Amazon rainforest recovering? New studies suggest that the long-term consequences of deforestation may not be as bad as predicted, as vegetation makes a comeback on abandoned agricultural land.
In the past, scientists scorned the “secondary forests,” as the new growth is called…..According to a United Nations study, the ecological importance of these new forests, which are “growing dramatically” all over the world, is “undervalued.”………..”There are more secondary than primary rainforests in most tropical countries today,” explains American biologist Joe Wright. “On the whole, the amount of land covered by vegetation is stable.” In tropical countries, in particular, rural flight and urbanization have led to more and more farmers abandoning their fields, allowing new vegetation to grow rampant on the fallow ground……
New York Times – January 29, 2009
New Jungles Prompt a Debate on Rain Forests
CHILIBRE, Panama — The land where Marta Ortega de Wing raised hundreds of pigs until 10 years ago is being overtaken by galloping jungle — palms, lizards and ants…..
These new “secondary” forests are emerging in Latin America, Asia and other tropical regions at such a fast pace that the trend has set off a serious debate about whether saving primeval rain forest — an iconic environmental cause — may be less urgent than once thought. By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster…..

But it’s still worse than your thought!

Stephen Skinner
October 7, 2014 3:05 pm

“For the first time, this examination shows a methodical way in which ecological effects in small areas can be used for large-scale environmental assessments.”
With this ‘new methodology’ there is not a mention of the increase in surface temperature simply due to forest clearance as the sun’s heat now has a direct path to the ground. Looking at the photo the land also looks well drained meaning less evaporation and more surface heat. When the trees are cleared the effect is immediate.

October 7, 2014 3:09 pm

Now, if only we could but back on biodiesel.

Abstract – 2011
Deforestation and the Social Impacts of Soy for Biodiesel: Perspectives of Farmers in the South Brazilian Amazon

October 7, 2014 3:38 pm

I hope they actually went out there and did measurements.

…integrates the results from remote sensing, ecology and forest modelling….
…they initially modelled the percentage loss of carbon…
…scientists used the forest simulation model FORMIND….
…the calculations of the UFZ model indicate that…

October 7, 2014 4:03 pm
October 7, 2014 4:40 pm

Since this paper concerns Neotropical forests, let’s have a look at what a warmer world might mean. Warmists do tell us constantly that global warming is a danger to the Brazilian rain forest. First the alarmist bell.

Guardian – 11 March 2009
Amazon could shrink by 85% due to climate change, scientists say
• Scientists say 4C rise would kill 85% of the Amazon rainforest
• Even modest temperature rise would see 20-40% loss within 100 years

OBSERVATIONS from the past with alarmist temperature rise. Here are the results.

Carlos Jaramillo et. al – Science – 12 November 2010
Effects of Rapid Global Warming at the Paleocene-Eocene Boundary on Neotropical Vegetation
Temperatures in tropical regions are estimated to have increased by 3° to 5°C, compared with Late Paleocene values, during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, 56.3 million years ago) event. We investigated the tropical forest response to this rapid warming by evaluating the palynological record of three stratigraphic sections in eastern Colombia and western Venezuela. We observed a rapid and distinct increase in plant diversity and origination rates, with a set of new taxa, mostly angiosperms, added to the existing stock of low-diversity Paleocene flora. There is no evidence for enhanced aridity in the northern Neotropics. The tropical rainforest was able to persist under elevated temperatures and high levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, in contrast to speculations that tropical ecosystems were severely compromised by heat stress.
doi: 10.1126/science.1193833
Carlos Jaramillo & Andrés Cárdenas – Annual Reviews – May 2013
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Global Warming and Neotropical Rainforests: A Historical Perspective
There is concern over the future of the tropical rainforest (TRF) in the face of global warming. Will TRFs collapse? The fossil record can inform us about that. Our compilation of 5,998 empirical estimates of temperature over the past 120 Ma indicates that tropics have warmed as much as 7°C during both the mid-Cretaceous and the Paleogene. We analyzed the paleobotanical record of South America during the Paleogene and found that the TRF did not expand toward temperate latitudes during global warm events, even though temperatures were appropriate for doing so, suggesting that solar insolation can be a constraint on the distribution of the tropical biome. Rather, a novel biome, adapted to temperate latitudes with warm winters, developed south of the tropical zone. The TRF did not collapse during past warmings; on the contrary, its diversity increased. The increase in temperature seems to be a major driver in promoting diversity.
doi: 10.1146/annurev-earth-042711-105403

It’s still going to be worse than we thought because it’s unnatural co2! Voila.

Reply to  Jimbo
October 7, 2014 4:49 pm

For any warmist who tells me “but changes are happening faster than ever before!” I say is 60 years slow enough for you? [Global warming is meant to make itself felt most in higher latitudes, in winter.]

Systematics and Biodiversity – Volume 8, Issue 1, 2010
Kathy J. Willis et al
4 °C and beyond: what did this mean for biodiversity in the past?
How do the predicted climatic changes (IPCC, 2007) for the next century compare in magnitude and rate to those that Earth has previously encountered? Are there comparable intervals of rapid rates of temperature change, sea-level rise and levels of atmospheric CO2 that can be used as analogues to assess possible biotic responses to future change? Or are we stepping into the great unknown? This perspective article focuses on intervals in time in the fossil record when atmospheric CO2 concentrations increased up to 1200 ppmv, temperatures in mid- to high-latitudes increased by greater than 4 °C within 60 years, and sea levels rose by up to 3 m higher than present. For these intervals in time, case studies of past biotic responses are presented to demonstrate the scale and impact of the magnitude and rate of such climate changes on biodiversity. We argue that although the underlying mechanisms responsible for these past changes in climate were very different (i.e. natural processes rather than anthropogenic), the rates and magnitude of climate change are similar to those predicted for the future and therefore potentially relevant to understanding future biotic response. What emerges from these past records is evidence for rapid community turnover, migrations, development of novel ecosystems and thresholds from one stable ecosystem state to another, but there is very little evidence for broad-scale extinctions due to a warming world. Based on this evidence from the fossil record, we make four recommendations for future climate-change integrated conservation strategies.
DOI: 10.1080/14772000903495833

October 7, 2014 9:01 pm

‘These losses of the differently fragmented and differently sized forest areas were determined in comparison to large, unchanged forests in the tropical rainforests in the Amazon and in the Brazilian coastal tropical forest Mata Atlântica (Brazilian Atlantic Forest)’
Probably a silly question-
Does this mean forests are essentially homogeneous?

Reply to  lee
October 8, 2014 12:31 am

The Mata Atlântica is related to the main amazonian rain-forest but distinct. It has not been in contact with the amazonian forest for several million years and many of the plants and animals are different and endemic. However it “looks” much like amazonian forest, in contrast to e. g. the subtropical Paraná forest.

October 8, 2014 3:43 am

Jungles of the Mind – Too much hype about the rainforest.
In 2003, Professor Philip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Bio-Geography at the University of London, wrote about the myths surrounding the tropical rainforests, based on his earlier paper, Philip Stott 2001. ‘Jungles of the mind. The invention of the tropical rain forest.’ History Today, Vol. 51(5), May 2001, pp. 38-44. :
“At the end of the Last Ice Age, only some 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, the tropics which are today occupied by these so-called ‘ancient cathedrals’ were seasonal savanna grasslands, both cooler and much drier than now. Fire was rampant. There were no rain forests in the Malay Peninsula and much of Amazonia, and, despite the increasing human development of forested space, there are still more rain forests persisting than existed then. As in Europe and North America, the forests came and went as climate changed; there is no Clementsian “long period of control” under one climate. Beneath many rain forests, there are sheets of ash, a testimony in the soil to past fires and non-forested landscapes.”
As usual with these issues, there is little new under the sun:
“Brazil: Ancient Amazon Actually Highly Urbanized” August 31st 2008
“The report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, describes clusters of towns and smaller villages that were connected by complex road networks and were arranged around large central plazas. Researches also discovered signs of farming, wetland management and fish farms in the ancient settlements that are now almost completely covered by rainforest.”
“Stone age etchings found in Amazon basin as river levels fall”: 10 November 2010 Guardian
“Archaeologists who have studied the photographs believe the art – which features images of faces and snakes – is another indication that thousands of years ago the Amazon was already home to large civilisations.
“Eduardo Neves, president of the Brazilian Society of Archaeology and a leading Amazon scholar, said the etchings appeared to have been made between 3,000 and 7,000 years ago when water levels in the region were lower. The etchings were “further, undeniable evidence” that the region had been occupied by a significant number of ancient settlements and people.””
This is a useful resource, which reinforces Philip Stott’s message.
SOUTH AMERICA DURING THE LAST 150,000 YEARS – Jonathan Adams, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
“In general, it would seem that 150-130,000 y.a. the continent showed the general glacial-age pattern of colder and more arid conditions. After about 130,000 y.a., climate warmed and moistened and the forests reached a similar area to the present. After 115,000 y.a., cold and aridity began to influence the vegetation, to an arid, cool maximum around 70,000 y.a., followed by erratic but generally fairly cool and drier-than-present conditions throughout the continent. A second cold, arid maximum began around 22,000 years ago and lasted until about 14,000 14C y.a., after which rainfall and temperatures increased and the forests returned over several thousand years.”
However, there is a lot of money to be made from AGW and the rainforests:

Reply to  dennisambler
October 8, 2014 6:46 am

Thanks for that. I have read that during the last glaciation deserts more widespread than today. Check out north western Europe.
The Sahara has been through a yo yo. The last time I read the Sahel has been greening (again)?

United Nations Environment Program
During the warm early to mid-Holocene (8 000- 5 000 yBP), the global climate that resulted from glacial retreat brought an increase in the intensity of the monsoon throughout the sub-tropical arid lands. Lake Chad became a freshwater inland lake bigger than today’s Caspian Sea, in an area that has again become a complete desert. Tropical forests and dry woodlands around the equator expanded north and south, while deserts moved into the mid-latitudes. During that period, the southern Sahara and the Sahel were much wetter than today, with extensive vegetation cover, thriving animal communities, and numerous human settlements.
Sometime between 6 000 and 5 000 yBP, there was again a transition to more arid conditions. Mesic vegetation communities disappeared rapidly, lake levels declined dramatically, and highly mobile pastoralist cultures started to dominate and replace sedentary lacustrine and riparian traditions. The Liwa region of the United Arab Emirates, for example, experienced phases of sand deposition that lead to the formation of a large (up to 160 m high) mega-dune. A similar transition towards more arid conditions occurred in North America, where the Holocene brought the arrival of Mojave, Chihuahuan and Sonoran desert scrub elements from the south, such as the agaves, cacti, ocotillos (Fouquieria), and creosote bushes that characterize the area today.

So much for a warmer world leading to MORE desertification. The people think we are all fools.

Reply to  Jimbo
October 8, 2014 7:40 am

Archaeological investigation of the Gobi desert reveals the same: small agricultural communities that flourished where there is now sand and gravel and desert. This during the earlier Holocene. This period of a wetter planet is known as the “climatic optimum” or the “Holocene optimum” and it was warmer than today. It is a fact that a warmer globe=a wetter globe and a cooler globe=a drier globe. The dubious scientists that hijacked the field of climatology some 25 years ago do their best to obscure these established facts. In truth, the field of climate studies have been set back by these types.

Reply to  Jimbo
October 8, 2014 8:01 am

The really catastrophic drying and cooling episode, at least in the Old World, was “the 4.2 KA event” i. e. about 2200 BC. This caused the simultaneous collapse of the Yang Shao culture in China, the Indus Civilization in India, the Sumero-Akkadian civilization in Mesopotamia, the Eblaites in Syria and The Old Empire of Egypt. The Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations ultimately adapted and recovered after a “dark age” lasting c. 200 years. The others were gone for good.

Reply to  dennisambler
October 8, 2014 7:51 am

You just have to read the descriptions from Orellana´s descent of the Amazon in the mid-16th century. These repeatedly describe visiting native “cities” and “kings” and an extensively cultivated landscape along the rivers. Subsequently the native population was decimated by newly introduced diseases and the forest grew back, and when european started penetrated Amazonia in the nineteenth century they quite naturally thought that it was a virgin wilderness.
It was much the same story in North America. Compare De Soto’s and La Salle’s descriptions of the Mississipi area.

CR Carlson
October 8, 2014 5:19 am

There’s the presumption that keeping track of CO2 is of extreme importance, based on what, besides a failed CAGW hypothesis that CO2 is some sort of temp control knob. Are some scientists, especially those prone to using ideological beliefs in their work, also prone to being OCD?
Using their models for these studies now, is it a stretch to have a hunch that these models could some day be applied to our yards and surrounding landscapes and then the Carbon Police(EPA) could levy financial penalties for not having a proper CO2 balance? After all, to their way of thinking, we all are contributing to or detracting from Gaia’s health. I wouldn’t put it past them if they could figure out a way to do so and get away with it.

October 8, 2014 7:08 am

The Atlantic Forest covered an area equivalent to 1,315,460 km2 and extended originally over 17 states (Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Bahia, Alagoas, Sergipe, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará and Piauí).
Today, 8.5% of remaining forests above 100 acres of what was originally there remain. Add all the fragments of native forest above 3 hectares, we currently 12.5%. It’s a global hotspot, ie, one of the richest areas in biodiversity and most threatened on the planet and also declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and National Heritage, the Federal Constitution of 1988 The original composition of the Atlantic Forest is a mosaic of vegetation defined as dense, open and mixed rainforests; deciduous and semi-deciduous seasonal forest; altitude grasslands, mangroves and salt marshes.
Conclusion: It is a quilt of fragments.

Reply to  Fernando
October 9, 2014 2:38 am

“Today, 8.5% of remaining forests above 100 hectares of what was originally there remain.”
An important post, thank you Fernando.
It seems that almost every green energy scheme actually hurts humanity AND the environment.
Sugar cane ethanol and palm oil displacing rainforests, corn ethanol now taking ~40% of the USA corn crop, intermittent and ineffective grid-connected wind and solar power are energy dogs with significant anti-environmental footprints and anti-human footprints.
If the enviros were actually TRYING to hurt humanity and the environment, they probably could not be doing a better job…
. .

October 8, 2014 7:18 am

Not 100 acres
100 hectares

Gary Pearse
October 8, 2014 10:17 am

Ferdinand Engelbeen
October 8, 2014 at 12:18 am
Rud Istvan, the oxygen balance shows that the net carbon balance of the biosphere is currently about 1 GtC/year and increasing:
Rud Istvan
October 7, 2014 at 11:49 am
Harold, I suspect you are correct. About half the uptake is terrestrial.
Gents, get the balance from cement making correct. Yes, roasting the limestone drives off CO2, but in the life cycle of the concrete poured, a large amount of the CO2 is absorbed back into the concrete. The fuel burning of course does not. For some reason this seems to be not well known.

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