Seeing Through the Smoke – fire as a catalyst of Amazonian tipping points


Seeing Through the Smoke – fire as a catalyst of Amazonian tipping points

Part 1: Mon, July 11, 10:30 - 12:30 hrs, Room Barahona 2

Part 2: Mon, July 11, 14:00 - 16:00 hrs, Room Barahona 2


Erika Berenguer, Jos Barlow, Stephen Sitch

The resilience of Amazon forests to the increased occurrence of wildfires is a planetary priority to avert the climate crisis. This symposium will synthesize the most recent research on ecological, social, and political aspects of Amazonian fires, and discuss societal implications and possible solutions.

The loss of forest, combined with climate change and large wildfire events, is pushing Amazonian forests towards their tipping point. If this trend is not prevented or reversed, large extents of the Amazon forest will be displaced by fire-prone shrub vegetation with implications for the local and global climates alike, as well as for people that depend on the goods and services provided by this ecosystem. Given the magnitude of the impacts of an Amazonian tipping point, it is crucial to better understand the role of fire as its catalyzer. Here, we aim to bring together on-the-ground ecological and social research on wildfires impacts in various Amazonian ecosystems, scaling-up fire dynamics throughout the basin using remote-sensing, and models of how fire can accelerate an Amazonian tipping point. Our sessions will cover the latest research in the region looking at the impacts of recurrent fire on humid and dry forests of Amazonia, the reinforcing feedbacks between drought, fire and deforestation, and the need to provide more holistic solutions to avoid surpassing regional thresholds. The symposium will be divided into four parts: 1) Context of Amazonia’s fire crisis, 2) From trees to plots: the empirical understanding of Amazonian fires, 3) From plots to the biome: insights from remote sensing and modelling, 4) Societal and policy implications of the fire crisis. Talks will be followed by two panels discussing knowledge gaps on our empirical understanding of Amazonian forest fires and solutions for avoiding a fire-driven Amazonian tipping point. The topics discussed in this symposium are timely not only for scientific and conservation practice in Amazonian countries; it also speaks to other tropical forest landscapes facing very similar challenges around the world. Our symposium encompasses a balance in both the gender and the career stage of the speakers. Finally, we aim that this symposium result in a special issue.

Why research needs to understand the complex causes of Amazonia’s present-day fire crisis.
Jos Barlow*

Ecological Insights from a 12-year Burn Experiment in a Transitional Amazonian Forest
Paulo Brando*, Divino Vicente Silvério, Susan Trumbore, Leonardo Maracahipes-Santos, Leandro Maracahipes, Marcia Macedo, Maria del Rosario Uribe and Lucas Paolucci

Assessing functional shifts in human-modified Amazonian forests
Erika Berenguer*, Jos Barlow, Yadvinder Malhi and Joice Ferreira

A novel approach for assessing the long-term CO2 balance of burned Amazonian Forests
Camila Silva*, Aline Lopes, Wallace Da Silva, Ane Alencar, Jos Barlow, Luiz Aragão, Erika Berenguer, Paulo Brando, Paulo Graça, Julia Shimbo, Edriano Souza and Bárbara Zimbres

The effects of fragmentation on fire in the Amazonia biome
Thais Rosan*, Stephen Sitch, Lina Mercado, Viola Heinrich, Celso Henrique Leite Silva Junior, Pierre Friedlingstein and Luiz Aragão

Unravelling the complexity of Amazonian tipping points
Bernardo Flores* and Marina Hirota

Amazon tipping points: an Earth System Modelling perspective
Stephen Sitch*, Peter Cox, Dominic Fawcett, Lucy Rowland, Thais Rosan, Chantelle Burton, Paul Ritchie, Alexander Cheesman, Lina Mercado, Cleiton Eller, Flossie Brown and Isobel Parry

Estimating fire emissions in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes of South America using remote sensing
Dominic Fawcett*, Leo Ng, Amos Tai, Xiaoyu Yan, Thais Rosan, Celso Henrique Leite Silva Junior, Luiz Aragão and Stephen Sitch

Fire in the larder: understanding the impacts of invasive fires on biodiversity and forest food for traditional communities
Rachel Carmenta* and Filipe Franca

Projections of Future Forest Degradation and CO2 Emissions for the Brazilian Amazon
ANA DE AGUIAR* and Talita Assis

The fate of Amazonian Forests in an increasingly fragmented fire-prone landscape
Luiz Aragão*, Liana Anderson, Camila Silva, Thais Rosan, Laura Vedovato, Aline Lopes, Viola Heinrich, Celso Henrique Leite Silva Junior, Fabien Wagner, Erika Berenguer, Jos Barlow, Stephen Sitch and TREES Laboratory