Amazon ecosystem 'could collapse’ in less than 50 years, scientists warn

Large ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest could collapse in less than 50 years once a crucial tipping point is reached, scientists have claimed.

Their predictions are based on computer simulations using data gathered from more than 40 natural environments.

Writing in Nature Communications, the researchers said some ecosystems are collapsing at a “significantly faster rate” than thought. They said the Amazon rainforest, which is around 2.1 million square miles, could shift to “a savannah-type ecosystem with a mix of trees and grass” in just 49 years while the Caribbean coral reefs, approximately 7,722 square miles, would become bleached and sparsely populated in just 15 years.

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Amazon eco-systems 'could collapse' in less than 50 years, scientists warn

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Dr Simon Willcock, of Bangor University’s School of Natural Sciences in Wales, and joint lead author on the study, said: “Unfortunately, what our paper reveals is that humanity needs to prepare for changes far sooner than expected.

“These rapid changes to the world’s largest and most iconic ecosystems would impact the benefits which they provide us with, including everything from food and materials, to the oxygen and water we need for life.”The researchers found that, while larger ecosystems took longer to collapse, their breakdown occurred relatively quickly.

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