Extreme Temperature Diary-August 20, 2018/ Topic: Tipping Point Discussion…Part 11) Amazon Rainforest

Monday August 20th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😊. Here is today’s main climate change related topic:

Amazon Rainforest

This tipping point topic is much more straightforward than a few of the others we have been discussing. After all, the Amazon has been described as “the lungs of the Earth.” The Amazon takes in great quantities of CO2 via its vegetation then releases oxygen, storing carbon in the ground and in trees and other flora. Also, the great expanse of forests literally creates its own weather and climate, greatly enhancing rainfall. We’ve seen this effect in areas across the planet. Where large extents of forest are cleared rainfall diminishes, hurting remaining surrounding forests. When forests are burned for clearing or via wildfire stored carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Over the last couple of years, you may have heard of big Amazonian fires, which is quite concerning for the health of the overall climate.

Also, denuded land is quite susceptible to erosion. If left alone denuded land may take decades if not over a century to be reforested. It’s no wonder that many environmental organizations are very concerned with what happens in Brazil, which due to corruption from time to time looks a blind eye to those wanting to exploit the Amazon.

Looking at Dr. Steffen’s chart the Amazon gets tipped towards being a net heat producer rather than one of nature’s cooling factors once global temperatures reach +3 to +5C above preindustrial conditions. If global averages do exceed +2C to +3C the planet will already be a house of horrors where stopping carbon pollution cold turkey across the Earth won’t keep warmth from increasing and seas from rising due to a hurt climate system. I can imagine an Amazon rainforest at +3C and above that is rapidly decreasing in areal coverage, becoming more like a drier Savannah or American Plains grassland, rife with smoky fires. The Amazon area would have already “tipped” such that the forest won’t come back. The lungs of the Earth would no longer breath, a horrifying prospect. 

For reference here is that global tipping point chart by Dr. Steffen indicating roughly at what global average temperature above preindustrial conditions cooling factors helping to regulate the climate become warming, thus spiking surface temperatures higher even if CO2 pollution ceased:

Global map by Will Steffen of potential tipping cascades. The individual tipping elements are color- coded according to estimated thresholds in global average surface temperature (tipping points) (12, 34). Arrows show the potential interactions among the tipping elements based on expert elicitation that could generate cascades. Note that, although the risk for tipping (loss of) the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is proposed at >5 °C, some marine-based sectors in East Antarctica may be vulnerable at lower temperatures.) From: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/08/07/1810141115#ref-12

Here is some information on the Amazon from my prior post: 


As most know the huge Amazon tropical forests have often been described as the “planet’s lungs,” responsible for converting a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into oxygen, as much as 20% by some estimates, holding in check runaway global warming. In my opinion nations from South America, not the U.S. from North America; China or India from Asia, or any of the nations from Europe, need to actively do something about climate change more than any other continent . Support for Brazil, Ecuador, Columbia and others in their struggle to preserve rain forests need to come from all corners of the planet. Recently I saw more ominous signs of why South America’s efforts to protect the environment aren’t working. In the war against climate change it would be like loosing one’s capital to the enemy if South America’s rainforests are eventually lost to logging, farming or clearing of land for more settlements. Here is the translated from Portuguese article I am referring to: 


Essentially from the article: Deforestation from March 2018 has increased by 249% over March 2017 in the Amazon.

So, this is the report card we have from early this year despite shows like Years of Living Dangerously, pleas from environmental groups, and assurances from South American governments of positive changes over many decades. Tisk Tisk. A few years ago this particular article stated some important findings:


The Amazon rainforest is now capturing one third less of the carbon in our atmosphere than it did just ten years ago; that amounts to one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide now freely circulating in the air. This increased carbon load on the climate will grow annually, accelerating changes in the climate and weather patterns. The entire forest lost over 760,000 sq km by 2014, and by 2025 some studies have estimated that 40% of the rainforest will be destroyed.

What is needed is funding of a South American environmental police force that is not subject to corruption to enforce the protection of vast new preserves as far west as Ecuador northward to Columbia and eastward through Brazil. The force could and perhaps should be answerable to the United Nations. What are the chances of this happening given current trends of lack of urgency among nations? About zero. Let’s all hope that I can write a rosier article on the Amazon in a few years due to some hard work by all.


On Tuesday cool conditions for this time of the year will dominate the Midwest and northern Plains. Well above average temperatures will be felt in the Pacific Northwest:

Tuesday I do expect to see some record low reports coming from the northern Rockies and northern Plains: 

Next week there should be a huge overall jet stream pattern shift across North America leading to heat and fire relief in the West and perhaps the warmest temperatures for summer across portions of the Southeast:

We probably will see unusually toasty temperatures across the northern tier of states.

Here is some of today’s climate related news:

JUST IN: July 2018 was the 4th warmest July on record for the globe, per

Goodnight Great Barrier Reef.  Goodnight octopus.  Goodnight sea turtle.  Goodnight shark.  Goodnight reef-loving humans.

(Click on the picture to read the article.)

Today in dystopian questions attempts to answer: is there going to be a wildfire insurance crisis?

(Click on the picture for the article.)

is Making Texas Summers Worse. Here’s Who That Hurts the Most: Texas Observer

(Click on the picture for the article.)

Effects of climate change in real time: India Flooding Kills Hundreds, Drives More than 800,000 from Homes in Kerala State

(Click on the picture to see the article.)

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line.)

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.)

The Climate Guy

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