Droughts threaten Bornean rainforests

At 130 million years old, the rainforests of Southeast Asia are the oldest in the world and home to thousands of plant and animal species, some endemic to these forests. The rainforests also play important roles in modulating regional rainfall as well in the global carbon cycle.

However, since the 1960s, increased warming in the Indian Ocean and frequent El Nino events have reduced rainfall in the region by approximately 1 percent per decade. Further, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change predicts that over the 21st century, Southeast Asia will experience higher land temperatures, more droughts, and increased seasonality -- wet seasons during the fall will get wetter, and dry seasons during the spring will get drier. However, few studies in the past have investigated how trees in the southeastern Asian rainforests respond to droughts and climate change.

In a new study, Kumagai and Porporato combine extensive field observations, historical records, and to investigate the potential impact of rainfall shifts and droughts on in the Bornean rainforests of Southeast Asia. They find that as El Nino events become more frequent in the future in response to warming in the tropical oceans, even the species of trees that can adapt to drought conditions will be at increased risk of dying off. The small number of species that cannot adapt well to will be at even greater risk of dying off.

Their study has implications for predictions of ecological changes, regional , and global climate as well as direct applications for policies aimed at reducing additional human impacts on these ecosystems, which are not only vulnerable to climate change but also have the highest rates of deforestation in the whole world.

Explore further

Team going after regional climate patterns of global warming

More information: Drought-induced mortality of a Bornean tropical rainforest amplified by climate change, Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, doi:10.1029/2011JG001835 , 2012.
Citation: Droughts threaten Bornean rainforests (2012, July 16) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-07-droughts-threaten-bornean-rainforests.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jul 16, 2012
I won't mention Global Warming. However; I will advise all those who don't believe in global warming, to go live on the coast, any coast, and learn how to tread water.

Jul 16, 2012
At 130 million years old, the rainforests of Southeast Asia are the oldest in the world

Quick someone get a tree ring sample so we can disprove global warming; (Just kidding). Nature is impressive in it's resilience to survive in one location for 130 million years. It's mind blowing to think of a forest being there for that long of a time span. It has to have gone through all manners of climate change in 130 million years, but now current conditions just may top everything prior as some species die off from drought conditions.

Also what is interesting is the effects on biology are significant even though rainfall hasn't changed as dramatic as has been the forest's response.
.. reduced rainfall in the region by approximately 1 percent per decade.

Apparently the accelerated CO2 diet is not having the growth effect that some deniers predict.

Jul 17, 2012
I won't mention Global Warming..
Bornean rainforests suffer with deforestation, which brings the droughts and accelerates the lost of forests due the climatic changes. It's avalanche-like effect, because the inland is cooled just with evaporation of water from forests and with formation of the heat reflecting clouds above it. Without this cooling there is no reason for preferential water condensation above continents.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more