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Tropical North Atlantic ocean-atmosphere interactions synchronize forest carbon losses from hurricanes and Amazon fires

  • Author(s): Chen, Y
  • Randerson, JT
  • Morton, DC
  • et al.

© 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. We describe a climate mode synchronizing forest carbon losses from North and South America by analyzing time series of tropical North Atlantic sea surface temperatures (SSTs), landfall hurricanes and tropical storms, and Amazon fires during 1995-2013. Years with anomalously high tropical North Atlantic SSTs during March-June were often followed by a more active hurricane season and a larger number of satellite-detected fires in the southern Amazon during June-November. The relationship between North Atlantic tropical cyclones and southern Amazon fires (r=0.61, p<0.003) was stronger than links between SSTs and either cyclones or fires alone, suggesting that fires and tropical cyclones were directly coupled to the same underlying atmospheric dynamics governing tropical moisture redistribution. These relationships help explain why seasonal outlook forecasts for hurricanes and Amazon fires both failed in 2013 and may enable the design of improved early warning systems for drought and fire in Amazon forests.

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