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  Folha Amazônica
 
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The world's tropical forests are experiencing unprecedented rates of clearing and conversion of various forms of land use.1 Altered cycles of water, energy, carbon and nutrients, resulting from the changes in Amazonian vegetation cover, are expected to have climatic and environmental consequences at local, regional, and global scales.

burned hillside, Santarém, November 1997
burned hillside, Santarém, November 1997
photo by D. Deering

To understand these consequences, enhanced knowledge is needed of the natural forest systems as well as systems which have already been converted to various other forms of land use or secondary re-growth.

To this end, the Brazilian scientific community called for a new multidisciplinary research effort in the early nineties. A large number of South American, North American and European research programs, agencies and individual groups have contributed extensive efforts toward defining an integrated research program in Brazil.

The Large Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) is an international research initiative led by Brazil. LBA is centered on two key questions:

  1. How does Amazonia currently function as a regional entity?

  2. How will changes in land use and climate affect the biological, chemical, and physical functions of Amazonia, including the sustainability of development in the region and the influence of Amazonia on Global climate?

The broad goal of the ecological research program is to improve our understanding of the effects of tropical forest conversion on ecosystem function and the sustainability of land use. The LBA-ECO science question that focuses this study is:

How do tropical forest conversion, re-growth, and selective logging influence carbon storage, nutrient dynamics, trace gas fluxes, and the prospect for sustainable land use in Amazonia?

The main science objectives that will be used in answering this question are as follows:

  • To quantify, understand and model the physical, chemical and biological processes controlling the energy, water, carbon, trace gas, and nutrient cycles found within Amazonia and to determine how these link to the global atmosphere.

  • To quantify, understand and model how the energy, water, carbon, trace gas and nutrient cycles respond to deforestation, agricultural practices and other land use changes, and how these responses are influenced by climate. As well as to predict the impacts of these responses both within and beyond Amazonia under future scenarios of changes in land use and climate.

  • To determine the exchanges of key greenhouse gases and species regulating the oxidizing potential between Amazonia and the atmosphere, and to understand the processes regulating these exchanges.

  • To provide quantitative and qualitative information to support sustainable development and ecosystem protection policies in Amazonia, in the context of both its regional and global functionality.

In LBA, emphasis is given to observations and analyses that will enlarge the knowledge base for Amazonia in several general areas:

1. Physical Climate
2. Carbon Storage and Exchange
3. Atmospheric Chemistry
4. Land Surface Hydrology and Water Chemistry
5. Biogeochemistry
6. Land Use and Land Cover
7. Human Dimensions

The LBA-ECO Science Team is pursuing an integrated approach involving synthesis of past results and data sets, modeling, remote sensing, Geographic Information System (GIS)-based analyses, new field observations and process studies, training and education and synthesis and integration of new results in order to tackle the LBA-ECO science question.

The results produced by the LBA-ECO Science Team will provide a new understanding of environmental controls on flows of energy, water, carbon, nutrients, and trace gases between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere of Amazonia. The results will also provide a scientific basis for the implementation of policies regarding the sustainable use of Amazonian natural resources.


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