Drought 'shuts down Amazon carbon sink'

A recent drought shut down the Amazon Basin's carbon sink by killing trees and slowing trees' growth rates, a study has shown.

The term carbon sink refers to the ability of a natural zone to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.

In the first basin-wide study of the impacts of the 2010 drought, data showed trees' mortality rate went up while growth rates declined.

The findings have been published by the Global Biogeochemical Cycles journal.

The Amazon Basin is a key player in the Earth's carbon cycle, holding 17% of the terrestrial vegetation carbon stock.

An international team of scientists studied the affects of two drought events, in 2005 and 2010, that affected large swathes of forest across the region, using data from the long-running Rainfor network that gathers data from almost 100 locations across the Amazon Basin.

Co-author Ted Feldpausch from the University of Exeter, UK, said the study was the first large-scale, direct demonstration of tropical drought slowing tree growth, describing the findings as "extremely important".

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