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Windthrow Variability in Central Amazonia


Windthrows are a recurrent disturbance in Amazonia and are an important driver of forest dynamics and carbon storage. In this study, we present for the first time the seasonal and interannual variability of windthrows, focusing on Central Amazonia, and discuss the potential meteorological factors associated with this variability. Landsat images over the 1998-2010 time period were used to detect the occurrence of windthrows, which were identified based on their spectral characteristics and shape. Here, we found that windthrows occurred every year but were more frequent between September and February. Organized convective activity associated with multicell storms embedded in mesoscale convective systems, such as northerly squall lines (that move from northeast to southwest) and southerly squall lines (that move from southwest to northeast) can cause windthrows. We also found that southerly squall lines occurred more frequently than their previously reported ~50 year interval. At the interannual scale, we did not find an association between El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and windthrows.

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