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Amazon rainforest degrading from climate change, NASA says

The Amazon rainforest is feeling the effects of climate change through a massive drought.
Credit: Jody Amiet

NASA warned this week that the Amazon rainforest was showing signs of massive degradation due to climate change.

The US space agency said that a large swathe of the rainforest twice the size of California is suffering from a drought.

The drought has lasted since 2005 and the new report estimates that the damage to the rainforest is more serious than previously thought, said CBS News.

The data from a satellite microwave radar showed that the worsening drought has destroyed 70 million hectares of forest pulling off its canopy.

The canopy is important as it protects lower vegetation from strong sunlight.

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Researchers said the destruction from climate change was unprecedented.

"The biggest surprise for us was that the effects appeared to persist for years after the 2005 drought," Yadvinder Malhi of Oxford University and co-author of the study said in a press release.

"We had expected the forest canopy to bounce back after a year with a new flush of leaf growth, but the damage appeared to persist right up to the subsequent drought in 2010."

It is expected that worsening climate change will prolong the Amazon drought, shrinking the forest.

"This may alter the structure and function of Amazonian rainforest ecosystems," Malhi said, reported the Guardian.

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