Featured Press Release by Nature
Zhou et al., Nature, 2014, was featured in this week’s press release for Nature on April 17, 2014 as follows:
Ecology: Declining Greenness of Congolese Rainforests
There has been a widespread reduction of greenness in Congolese rainforests, which may be attributable to less rainfall in Africa over the past decade, according to a study published in Nature. The findings suggest that the continuation of a drying trend could alter the species present in the rainforests by favouring those that are more tolerant of droughts.
The Congo rainforests are the second-largest on Earth, but little is known about how they are affected by climate change. By analysing satellite data from different sensors (optical, thermal, microwave and gravity) over the Congo basin from the past decade, Liming Zhou and colleagues report a large-scale decline in forest greenness. This decline is consistent with a decreasing trend in rainfall and terrestrial water storage, and an increasing trend in incoming solar radiation and land surface temperature. The results indicate that forest browning could be a consequence of a long-term drying trend in this region, and reflect a slow adjustment to climate change.
The authors suggest that a drying-trend-driven gradual decline in forest greenness, associated with a loss of photosynthesis capability, could alter the forest community by supporting species that thrive in drier conditions, and thus affect biodiversity and carbon storage.
Liming Zhou (State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA)
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