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17 December 2018

Leafcutter ant colonies may be an overlooked source of carbon dioxide emissions, new study finds

Factories mass produce goods for society and many emit greenhouse gases in the process, but not all are run by humans. Some factories lie underground and are operated around the clock by tireless six-legged workers. A new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, shows leafcutter ant nests can emit carbon dioxide at a rate thousands of times higher than regular soil.

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15 August 2018

Amazon pirating water from neighboring Rio Orinoco

The Amazon River is slowly stealing a 40,000-square-kilometer (25,000-square-mile) drainage basin from the upper Orinoco River, according to new research suggesting this may not be the first time the world’s largest river has expanded its territory by poaching from a neighbor. The rare conjunction could help researchers understand how river systems evolve and how the Amazon Basin grew to dominate the South American continent.

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15 July 2016

Drought caused the Amazon to stop storing carbon

The most extensive land-based study of the effect of drought on Amazonian rainforests to date has shown that a recent drought completely shut down the Amazon Basin’s carbon sink. Previous research has suggested that the Amazon – the most extensive tropical forest on Earth – may be gradually losing its capacity to take carbon from the atmosphere. This new study paints a more complex picture, with forests responding dynamically to an increasingly variable climate.

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18 December 2015

A natural experiment: City in pristine Amazon shows pollution alters ecosystem

Human-made pollutants are changing cloud patterns over the Amazon, altering ecosystems in the process.

Sometimes, the best experiments come ready-made from nature. The Brazilian city of Manaus has a population of almost 2 million people and sits in the heart of an otherwise pristine stretch of Amazonian rainforest, near the place where the Negro and Solimões tributaries fuse to form the Amazon River. New research using the area as a testing ground shows that Manaus city pollutants meddle with the Amazon’s cloud cover, rain and ecosystem, according to scientists who presented the finding at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.

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Rainforests not so rainy: Cutting trees cuts rainfall

Deforestation threatens to upset the delicate water balance within the Amazon rainforest by altering not just ground cover but patterns of rainfall overhead, according to a new study.

Previous research has shown that during the dry season, areas of the Amazon cleared for cattle grazing get more rainfall than the surrounding forest. But most of this research was conducted in the 1980s, when the Amazon was deforested in small patches only a few kilometers wide, said Jaya Khanna, a researcher at Princeton University and lead author of the new study. Khanna’s is the first long-term study of the effects of deforestation on precipitation in the Amazon. Her results, presented at the 2015 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, show that rainfall patterns in cleared areas today are vastly different from those in the 1980s.

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