We analyzed the pattern of large forest disturbances or blow-downs apparently caused by severe storms in a mostly unmanaged portion of the Brazilian Amazon using 27 Landsat images and daily precipitation estimates from NOAA satellite data. For each Landsat a spectral mixture analysis (SMA) was applied. Based on SMA, we detected and mapped 279 patches (from 5 ha to 2,223 ha) characteristic of blow-downs. A total of 21,931 ha of forest were disturbed. We found a strong correlation between occurrence of blow-downs and frequency of heavy rainfall (Spearman's rank, r2 = 0.84, p < 0.0003). The recurrence intervals of large disturbances were estimated to be 90,000 yr for the eastern Amazon and 27,000 yr for the western Amazon. This suggests that weather patterns affect the frequency of large forest disturbances that may produce different rates of forest turnover in the eastern and western Amazon basin.
Earth Sciences, Earth Systems Research Center
Geophysical Research Letters
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Espírito-Santo, F. D. B., M. Keller, B. Braswell, B. W. Nelson, S. Frolking, and G. Vicente (2010), Storm intensity and old-growth forest disturbances in the Amazon region, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L11403, doi:10.1029/2010GL043146.
Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.