Amazon rainforest dieback may decrease rain in U.S. West

By on November 19, 2013
Sierra Nevada mountain range (Credit: David Prasad, via Flickr)

Sierra Nevada mountain range (Credit: David Prasad, via Flickr)

Researchers at Princeton University report that deforestation in the Amazon rainforest could significantly reduce rain and snowfall in the western United States, according to a release. Their findings highlight the Amazon’s destruction and how its losses could affect weather patterns elsewhere.

In a study that relied on climate simulations, the researchers factored in a scenario in which the Amazon rainforest was completely stripped bare. With that consideration, they found that parts of the West would see 20 percent less rain. In California specifically, a complete loss of the Amazon’s trees would reduce the Sierra Nevada mountain range’s snowpack by half.

The implications, even if they are only simulated, are serious for the West – it already grapples with drought conditions on an almost annual basis and snowpack from the Sierra Nevada is an important source of drinking water for two states: California and Nevada.

Image: Sierra Nevada mountain range (Credit: David Prasad, via Flickr)

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