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Regional distribution of large blowdown patches across Amazonia in 2005 caused by a single convective squall line


In mid-January 2005 a convective squall line traversed 4.5 × 106 km2 of Amazonia from southwest to northeast. As seen in Landsat images, this atypical convective storm left blowdown imprints with diffuse geometry, unlike the fan-shaped wind disturbance of much more frequent east-to-west propagating squall lines. Previous work reported 0.2% of the forest area damaged by this one relatively rare event within one Landsat image and assumed similar disturbance across the entire traverse. We mapped convective wind damage impact to the region in 2005 by identifying large-scale (>4 ha) blowdown imprints in 30 Landsat images. The diffuse-type imprints associated with this single squall line contributed up to 60–72% of total 2005 wind-disturbed area detected across the region, but damage was highly concentrated in central Amazonia. Consequently, the distribution of large wind damage patches in 2005 across Amazonia was very different from long-term average. Regional distribution of wind-driven tree mortality for smaller patch sizes remains unknown.

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