In the Amazon, climate change has lengthened the dry season and caused the rainfall to decline in parts. These shifts are reorganizing the forest: trees that prefer drier conditions are thriving, while those that prefer wetter conditions, and which make up the majority of tree species in Amazonia, are dying off in greater numbers, a study has found.
A great irony of this shift is that trees are dying just as we understand them better than ever. It has become clear that far from being inert and silent, and little more than a backdrop for wildlife, trees are able to communicate with one another and even share resources.
Forests also absorb around one-quarter of all human carbon emissions annually, and increasingly there are worries that if forests die back they will switch from storing carbon to emitting it, because dead trees will release all the carbon they have accumulated.