RIO DE JANEIRO, (Reuters) – A powerful storm destroyed about half a billion trees in the Amazon in 2005, according to a study yesterday that shows how the world’s forests may be vulnerable to more violent weather caused by climate change.
Researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans used satellite data, on-site observations and computer models to calculate that between 441 million and 663 million trees were killed by the storm that swept through the region in January 2005.
The destruction was equivalent to about 30 percent of the total deforestation caused by humans in the region around the city of Manaus that year, the study found.
“In terms of deforestation in the Amazon they’re not comparable. They are completely different pro-cesses,” study co-author Jeff Chambers, who has been studying the Amazon for nearly 20 years, told Reuters. “That being said, it was a huge storm.”
Chambers said the results of the study showed a widespread drought in the Amazon that year, which had been blamed for the tree loss, was not the main culprit.