The Amazon and its water


From talking about Terra Preta, we took a closer look at the Amazon region. Since we also focus on the protection of water, the Amazon rainforest is a great example of how our nature uses forests to clean and transport water.

Interestingly, a healthy 35-meter tree will transport about 40.000 liters of water during a growing season. The water is then evaporated in the air and can serve other uses around it. This is one way how forests contribute to keeping moisture in a region even though temperatures may be high. According to National Geographic, each water vapor molecule in the Amazon rainforest will go through this cycle 5 to 7 times and then it will exit into the river or the atmosphere. This way, the forest produces about half of its own rain before the water reaches the Andes or the Atlantic.

This process called evapotranspiration is part of a well set balance. Since the evaporated water is taken inland by the winds, the forest will secure its own water supply during the dry seasons. This needs a dense network of trees where evaporation into the atmosphere will be limited. Therefore forest fires cannot ravage wildly. Besides, since some of the trees have 10-meter-deep roots, they can reuse moisture which is already deep in the soil. All of this is only possible if the rainforest is sufficiently dense.

With its enormous size, the Amazon rainforest has an important effect on the global climate. It not only stores huge amounts of carbon-dioxide and it also keeps the atmosphere in balance. If its effect were to diminish in the Amazon region, i.e. the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada could be reduced to half its current size. This would change the way California functions as it is one of their fundamental water reservoirs.

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