Here is a statement from Dr. Sandy Andelman, co-author of the study titled "Drought Sensitivity of the Amazon Rainforest" and Vice-President of the TEAM Network at Conservation International:
"With most of the climate change debate focusing on energy security and food security, this study emphasizes the fundamental importance of ecosystem security – in short, how nature keeps us healthy. It shows that a warming climate is not the only problem; drying climate is just as bad or worse for both nature and people.
"More than half the species on Earth and at least 2 billion people depend directly on tropical forests for survival. At the same time, the great remaining forests of Africa's Congo Basin and the Amazon region of South America play a vital role in climate regulation by absorbing and storing huge amounts of atmospheric carbon. Now the study reveals that increasing drought due to global climate change can cause potentially irreparable damage to the Amazon jungle and its ability to function as a carbon "sink".
"In addition, these data show we need an exponential increase in research of tropical ecosystems. We now have only a tiny fraction of the scientific information required to understand and act on the effects of climate change in the tropics.
"Fortunately, we have started to create tools to obtain the essential scientific data needed. For example, the Tropical Ecology, Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network at Conservation International is the first global scientific network producing real-time data and analyses of tropical forests – in effect, an early warning system for the planet's health. There is an urgent need for this kind of research, and we are rapidly running out of time to get the data we need to make a difference."