Regional climate change over eastern Amazonia caused by pasture and soybean cropland expansion



[1] Field observations and numerical studies revealed that large scale deforestation in Amazonia could alter the regional climate significantly, projecting a warmer and somewhat drier post-deforestation climate. In this study we employed the CPTEC-INPE AGCM to assess the effects of Amazonian deforestation on the regional climate, using simulated land cover maps from a business-as-usual scenario of future deforestation in which the rainforest was gradually replaced by degraded pasture or by soybean cropland. The results for eastern Amazonia, where changes in land cover are expected to be larger, show increase in near-surface air temperature, and decrease in evapotranspiration and precipitation, which occurs mainly during the dry season. The relationship between precipitation and deforestation shows an accelerating decrease of rainfall for increasing deforestation for both classes of land use conversions. Continued expansion of cropland in Amazonia is possible and may have important consequences for the sustainability of the region's remaining natural vegetation.