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Aerial Rivers: more important than carbon credits ? It seems so.

A few weeks ago we watched a video about "aerial rivers", which are very important for keeping fresh water in continental rivers and lakes in a larger quantity than the quantity that flows into the seas, becoming salty. Below our notes and at the end, a link to the study by Professor Antonio Donato Nobre, FAPESP research and another to a quick video on the subject.

- A large tree in the Amazon, with roots that can capture water from the water table, from the ground at 50-60 meters, and with a crown of 20 m in diameter, can transpire more than 1 thousand liters / day.

- That is, leaves not only for photosynthesis (carbon capture) but also for transpiration (like all living beings, to maintain a stable temperature).

- 20 billion tons of water. This would be the total “transpired” throughout the Amazon rainforest. Per day.

- Enough to fill all Brazilian water tanks daily…. 300 times.

- The Amazon River - which at its widest point reaches 50 kilometers (!) during the rainy season, and is also globally responsible for 20% of all fresh water that flows into the sea - returns to the Atlantic Ocean 17 billion tons of water per day. That is, less than the forest puts into the atmosphere.

- For atmospheric vapor to turn into rain clouds, condensation nuclei are needed.

- This is where the aerosols emitted by the trees enter, small particles that also rise into the atmosphere by convection. For example by the decomposition of organic matter. With high concentration of potassium and sodium cations. Which function as condensation nuclei of clouds.

- This is called a “biotic pump”. Existing in almost all the world's forests.

- If these “bombs” stopped, all the water accumulated on the continents would go to the oceans (note that it is not only evaporation / transpiration, but also the generation of nuclei)

- In other words, the water and energy cycle seem to be more urgent and vital than the carbon cycle.

“Lost forest, get ready for an inhospitable climate”, as Professor Nobre says in a great video on YouTube (click here), with just over 6 minutes, where he himself explains (in Portuguese) about the “Rios Voadores” (Aerial Rivers).

Click on the image below to download the report “The Climate Future of the Amazon – Scientific Assessment Report”. Versions in Portuguese, English, Español and Deutsche.


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“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty”

Madame Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) Chemist & physicist. French, born Polish.

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