Vegetation-rainfall feedback in the Amazon

The distribution of rainfall and vegetation are closely interconnected in the Amazon region. On the one hand, rainforests maintain atmospheric humidity by evapotranspiration, which contributes to regional rainfall. On the other hand, high rainfall maintains resilience of rainforests.

Under the supervision of Prof. Anja Rammig, I developed a novel methodological framework based on complex networks to quantify cascading effects in the Amazonian forest-rainfall system (Fig. 1).

I showed the importance of cascading moisture recycling, which I defined as moisture recycling on the continent involving re-evaporation cycles (evaporation of precipitating moisture in the same location) along the way (Fig. 2).

Based on this, I built a coupled vegetation-atmosphere model to quantify the impact of climate change and deforestation on Amazon forest resilience.

See here the publications.


Fig. 1 : Schematic representation of cascading effects in the vegetation–rainfall system. (Source: Zemp et al. Nature Communications, 2017)
Fig. 2: On the importance of cascading moisture reycycling in South America. (Source: Zemp et al., 2015, poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Tropical Ecology (GTÖ) in Zürich – Merian Award Winner; See also: Zemp et al. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 2014 )


Funding (2012-2016):



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