Weather Patterns

Rainfall that occurs in the Amazon originates from weather patterns that travel from the East, in the Atlantic Ocean, to west, where they move across the Amazon lowlands and approach the Andes mountains. At the same time, daily transpiration of Amazonian trees releases a large quantity of moisture into the air. As this moisture is pushed towards the Andes, it is squeezed into narrow valleys, such as the Kosnipata Valley shown below. The clouds converge and condense into rain as they hit the mountains, which trap this rain and direct it to th etributaries of the Amazon River. Nearly 20% of all the freshwater runoff to the oceans on the planet travel through the Amazon River.

This rain benefits Amazonian rainforests, which require significant moisture for most of the year. Forests use this moisture for photosynthesis, and afterwards, the water vapor is released into the air. Deforestation in the Amazon inhibits this pattern, and dries out forests in the western part of the continent. Scientists estimate that 90% of the current Amazon must stay intact in order for this moisture cycle to continue and for forests to stay healthy.

Learn More About the Amazon and Global Weather Patterns

Winter in the Rainforest

As winter settles in on the Midwest, dramatic changes are everywhere. Leaves have fallen off the trees; a brisk, frigid wind sweeps through the streets. In the morning, plants, trees, and buildings are pale and sparkly with the frost that descends at night. The pace...

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Deforestation Has Worldwide Repercussions

In their recent study, “Effects of tropical deforestation on climate and agriculture,” Deborah Lawrence and Karen Vandecar review data from multiple sources, including general circulation models (GCMs), direct measurements and satellite data and imagery, to study the...

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The Start of the Amazon as a Rainforest

Two thousand years ago, the Amazon Rainforest was a different landscape than it is today. John Carson, from the University of Reading in England, described the past landscape of the Amazon as “more like a savannah than the rainforest we see today”. This shift was...

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A Self-Watering Rainforest

Water is a compound essential for life. It makes up about 60% of the human body and covers about 71% of the Earth’s surface. Yet researchers from the University of Exeter and Colorado State University, using computer modeling, showed evidence that the Amazon...

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Seasons Greetings from the Skies Above

The hydrologic cycle: evaporation, precipitation, soil absorption, surface runoff, and transpiration. This process plays a significant role in determining an area’s wet and dry seasons. A wet season is defined as a period when there is 10-40 inches of rainfall per...

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The Amazon Could Stop Breathing

The Amazon rainforest is home to hundreds of billions of trees essential for absorbing carbon dioxide. However, this process is reversed during years of drought, where the Amazon has produced carbon dioxide rather than consumed. A drought in 2005 turned the Amazon...

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