The fires, when coupled with climate change, only further

The purpose of the journal article written
by Salazar, Nobre, and Oyama in 2007 is to predict the environmental changes
which could occur in South America over the next few decades.  In order to accomplish this, the authors use
two different scenarios: B1 and A2.  The
B1 scenario predicts an increase in temperature due to climate change of 1° to
4°C.  The A2 scenario predicts an increase
in temperature due to climate change of 2° to 6°C.  The authors use both scenarios to predict
potential shifts in the biomes of South America.  The major biomes of South America are currently
savanna and tropical forest.  Since there
is an interdependent relationship between climate and the plant species which
inhabit an area, it can be expected for climate change to affect the biome designation
for particular areas.  The authors
predict that South America will experience a loss of tropical forests and an
increase in savannas.  More specifically,
an 8.2% decrease in tropical forests is predicted by the B1 scenario, while an
18% decrease in tropical forests is predicted by the A2 scenario.  For areas currently classified as savannas, a
13.9% increase is expected based on the B1 scenario, while a 30.4% increase is
expected for the A2 scenario.  The
authors state that these changes could occur due to the warmer temperatures
causing increased evaporation of water from the soil.  Loss of water from the soil would cause the
types of species which inhabit the area to change, as the area would then better
support plant species adapted to drier soils. 
A biome shift from tropical forests to savannas would thus occur.  The authors caution that climate change is
not the only contributing factor in this issue. 
Factors such as deforestation and fires, when coupled with climate
change, only further encourage the current biome composition of South America
to change as well.

 

The findings reported in this paper
discuss the potential impact climate change could have on the biomes of South America.  This directly relates to class lectures
detailing characteristics of the different biomes, as well as the environmental
changes expected due to climate change.  In the break-out session during class, my
group discussed savannas and the changes expected in that biome over the next
few years.  We predicted these areas to generally
expand due to climate change, causing the geographical sizes of the nearby
biomes to decrease.  It is interesting to
consider the possible effects of anthropogenic factors (such as deforestation
and greenhouse gas production) on the global climate.  These factors result in changes which could
impact the current natural order of not only South America but the entire world.  As we discussed in class, there is a diverse
array of species adapted to survive in tropical forests.  A loss or reduction of this biome could
result in a great decrease of diversity on the planet.  The human impact on the natural world cannot
be eliminated, but it can be diminished. 
If action is taken to moderate these factors, their impact on the global
climate could still be reduced. 

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