Rebecca Hollingsworth
Northeastern State University
The Influence of Drought in the Tropics NEED PHOTO CREDITS CW GREAT PAPER!


I. Introduction


Throughout existence, tropical rainforests have been affected by natural forces like, storms, fire, and drought. A drought is an extended period of dry weather caused by a lack of rain or snow. As temperatures rise due to global climate change, more moisture evaporates from land and water, leaving less water behind. Drought stress in tropical forests can have a major impact on global carbon, water, and energy cycles, and the effects of drought in the tropics are becoming easier to examine. Since the 1970s, droughts have become more extensive and more dangerous worldwide, predominantly in the tropics and subtropics. Tropical rainforests lie in the "tropics," between the Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer. An important characteristic of rainforests is apparent in their name. Rainforests are in a zone where intense solar energy produces a convection zone of rising air that loses its moisture through frequent rainstorms. Rainforests are subject to heavy rainfall, at least 80 inches (2,000 mm), and in some areas over 430 inches (10,920 mm) of rain each year.(Butler, 2010) Rainforests are dependent on the amount of rainfall they receive. The rainforest is home to a numerous amount of species. Around 40% to 75% of all biotic species find their home in the rainforests. It has been estimated that there may be many millions of species still undiscovered in tropical rainforests. The many species that call the rainforests home are in jeopardy from severe droughts.
Mossman River during the rainy season
The abundance of water is a key component of the Tropical Rain Forest.
II. Background

Climate change affects how much water is available for people to use. Many parts of the world are already experiencing water shortages, and climate change could make this problem worse. Researchers have found that over one half of the Amazon rainforest is at risk of burning due to extreme droughts that have occurred.(Butler, 2010) This has everything to do with rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, and these droughts will affect the amount of water in our water sources as well as the amount of water that soaks into the soil to replenish ground water. Deforestation and climate change may be affecting the water cycle in tropical rainforests. Dry conditions, joined with degradation from logging makes the Tropical forests more vulnerable to fire as well. Drought inevitably affects the social, environmental, and economical standard of living for everyone.Drought is often partially induced by human activities like deforestation, but it is also a natural occurrence.

II. Effects of drought on plant and animal species
Most animals in the Tropics live in areas with specific climate conditions, such as temperature and rainfall patterns, that support them to grow well. A change in the climate or rainfall of an area can affect the animals living there, as well as the makeup of the whole ecological unit. Drought affects the environment in many different ways. Plants and animals depend on water too.. When a drought occurs, their food supply can shorten and their habitats can be threatened.. Sometimes the damage is only temporary and their habitat and food supply return to normal when the drought is over. But sometimes drought's impact on the environment can last a long time. Drought means less food, water, and shelter. Less food will likely result in reduced reproduction by animals. Less food for adults will also result in less food found for young animals.
ngoro
IV. Effects of drought on Human life
Below is a video on just how much drought may affect the lives of many people. The people of the tropics will experience severe water shortages as higher temperatures dry up the monsoons which are so critical to life in the tropics. Already some parts of South America are receiving less rainfall totals than at any point in the past millennium. This comes at huge costs for people, animals and plant life. The crops that people in the tropics grow for food need specific conditions to thrive, including the right temperature and enough water. A changing climate means negative effects for crops Drought also causes diseases as there is less water available for basic hygiene and sanitation. Native's along with many others also suffer from droughts. The recreational and tourism industries are seriously damaged because tourists do not want to travel to a country that is suffering from a severe water shortage due to drought.Because of drought these places are experiencing social impacts that include health and safety problems from water shortages thus, reducing the quality of life. During droughts many people tend to migrate to areas away from the location affected by drought. When this happens, that area loses a great deal of their population and leaves them less financially secure.

V. Drought and it's effects on the structure of the rain forests

Droughts are expected to surge in frequency and severity in the near future, which will likely result in significant impacts on growth and structure of the Tropics.(Costs, 2010) The larger danger is from the gaps that drought create that start opening up throughout the forest floor allowing light and air in. Once in starts to dry its interior thus worsening the effects of drought. Because drought makes forests more flammable, the risk of fires grows and inevitably kills transforms our rainforests.Drought is also connected to the increase in insect infestations and can be responsible for plant disease. All of these can affect the structure of the rain forest greatly.


VI. Conclusion
What this means for the rainforest is simply,drought is severely threatening the existence of the rainforests. Drought can shape what we call the beautiful tropical rainforest into desserts, deserted of wildlife, and plants. It's long been believed that leafy plants like trees contribute to rainfall. That's because they absorb water from the soil, and secrete water droplets through their leaves. These water droplets wind up in the atmosphere and eventually fall back as rainfall. (Sotto, 2007) Reducing deforestation is more than just a method to reduce global warming pollution. Tropical forests are home to many unique species of animals and plants. Animals like the Kell Billed Toucan will risk becoming extinct if we do not act to protect their habitat in the tropical forests. The Tropical forests are an important source of food and medicine for people. Tropical forests also help regulate regional rainfall and prevent floods and droughts. Thus, reducing deforestation is not only a good idea because it protects against global warming but it can make vital contributions in actively saving the lives of many humans, plants and animals.

References

Butler, Rhett. 2010. MongaBay.com[Internet].[Cited July, 18 2013] Available from:http://www.mongabay.com/about.html

Costa, A., Galbraith, D., Almeida, S., Portela, B., da Costa, M., de Athaydes Silva Junior, J., & ... Meir, P. (2010). Effect of 7 yr of experimental drought on vegetation dynamics and biomass storage of an eastern Amazonian rainforest. New Phytologist, 187(3), 579-591. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2010.03309.x

Krichner, J.C.(2011). Tropical Ecology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Saatchia, S., Asefi-Najafabady, S., Maihi, Y., Aragão, L. C., Anderson, L. O., Myneni, R. B., & Nemani, R. (2013). Persistent effects of a severe drought on Amazonian forest canopy. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, 110(2), 565-570. doi:10.1073/pnas.1204651110

SOTTA, E., VELDKAMP, E., SCHWENDENMANN, L., GUIMARÃES, B., PAIXÃO, R., RUIVO, M. P., & ... MEIR, P. (2007). Effects of an induced drought on soil carbon dioxide (CO2) efflux and soil CO2 production in an Eastern Amazonian rainforest, Brazil. Global Change Biology, 13(10), 2218-2229. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01416.x