The AmazonFACE programme is building understanding of how the Amazon forest may respond to climate change.
The AmazonFACE programme is led by the National Institute for Amazon Research (INPA) along with a range of partners who have completed the scoping phase. The AmazonFACE programme addresses the overarching question: "How will climate change affect the Amazon forest, the biodiversity it harbours, and the ecosystem services it provides to humanity?"
The central feature of the programme is a field experiment of unprecedented scope that will expose an old-growth Amazon forest to the CO2 concentration of the future in a research station near Manaus, Brazil using Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) technology.
FACE experiments pump controlled volumes of CO2 into small experimental forest plots to simulate its response to climate change. FACE experiments have been used successfully in several locations around the world including Duke Forest, North Carolina, USA, Staffordshire, UK (BIFoR FACE) and New South Wales, Australia (EucFACE), but never before at scale in tropical forests.
This research will provide critical information on how fast CO2 is removed from the air by the Amazon forest now and in the future. The untouched Amazon forest has been absorbing CO2 but this ability has reduced over time. If the reduction continues, the forest could start producing CO2 by the next decade. As the largest terrestrial carbon sink, this has major implications on the carbon budget.
The future response of tropical forests to rising atmospheric CO2 is one of the largest uncertainties when quantifying the fraction of anthropogenic emissions that can be sequestered in natural land and ocean ecosystems. Results from AmazonFACE could help inform emissions reduction and adaptation and resilience strategies for Brazil and the region as well as having implications for global strategies.
The Met Office and AmazonFACE
The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has funded the Met Office’s involvement, with partners, in the AmazonFACE programme. We will be helping establish a pilot FACE pair of rings within the Amazon jungle – the first of its kind within the rainforest. Baseline testing of the completed rings is expected to begin before the start of the 2023-24 rainy season (December to May).