How does the Amazon forest respond to drought? This response depends on complex ecosystem feedbacks. For instance, droughts increase fire occurrence, which could then stabilize a state of low tree cover. Reduced tree cover affects evapotranspiration by decreasing tree transpiration, which then affects rainfall and forest resilience downwind. In this talk, parameterized models of the tree cover-fire feedback and the tree cover-rainfall feedback will be presented and applied to study the effects of droughts on the Amazon forest. It is shown that rainfall seasonality increases the range of rainfall conditions at which the fire-tree cover feedback may destabilize forests. Furthermore, by maintaining transpiration, the Amazon forest buffers against droughts both seasonally and inter-annually, revealing how the Amazon forest-rainfall system may respond to future climatic extremes.
Arie Staal is in the final year of his PhD research at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. For his PhD research he specializes in the resilience of the Amazon forest. To unravel the complex dynamics governing this system, Arie aims to bridge dynamical systems theory and empirical results from satellite-data analysis. He holds a BSc and MSc (cum laude) degree in Environmental Sciences from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and so far has published seven peer-reviewed papers. For more info, see http://www.sparcs-center.org/arie-staal.html.