Greenhouse gas investigations in the Amazon basin reach a second round

Freiberg students and scientists measuring soil respiration © Jörg Matschullat
In February this year researchers of TU Bergakademie Freiberg took gas and soil samples in the Amazon basin to investigate the influence of soils on regional climate change. Six months later, the scientists travelled again to Brazil for further investigations.

The German-Brazilian team of scientists works at twelve locations in Amazonas state, Brazil, taking intense measurements and complex samples. This encompasses areas around larger Manaus in the central part of Amazonas and near the borders of the federal states of Acre and Rondônia in the southern part. While the rainy season made things complicated in the highly differentiated terrain of ‘terra firme = solid ground’ during the first expedition, the team now endures the dry season. “Instead of mud fights, it is now dust baths every day. The fine dust penetrates each and everything and challenges our equipment”, explains Prof. Jörg Matschullat from TU Bergakademie Freiberg. 

The intensity of the dry season is surprising to the researchers. Climate diagrams of southern Amazonas show August as the only month with drought conditions. Yet, there was not a drop of rain since mid June in many parts. “The pastures crackle like paper, extensive smoldering fires fill the air with soot and thick aerosol over vast stretches. Even the forests are dry. Individual trees tumble without prewarning and many of our previous trails from February and March have turned to almost impassable thickets”, describes Prof. Matschullat the situation.

A first such intense drought occurred in the region for the first time in 2005. Back then, it triggered an energy crisis in Brazil. Two more such events followed in 2010 and 2015, the latter influenced by El Nino. To experience such an intense drought again a year later is unusual and could be a consequence of both large-scale deforestation and regional climate change. The Freiberg scientists expect a better understanding of the regional dynamics and the Amazon ecosystem from the soil samples they take and their respiration studies.

The project ‘EcoRespira-Amazon’ is part of a German-Brazilian Research collaboration effort (NoPa2), supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Next to TU Bergakademie Freiberg, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation EMBRAPA, State Agency for the Protection of Amazonas IPAAM, the Federal University of Amazonas in Manaus (UFAM), the National Institute of Amazonian Research INPA and the National Meteorological Institute INMET are project partners.

More Information: 

Contact partner:

Prof. Jörg Matschullat
Tel. +49 (3731) 39-3399

Carolin Schroeder installiert einen Dichtungsring im Boden © Jörg Matschullat
Totenkopfäffchen im Alphonso Ducke Biosphärenreservat © Jörg Matschullat
Gilvan Coimbra Martins vor frisch abgeholzter Fläche bei Apui © Jörg Matschullat
Idylle beim Messen der Bodenatmung zur Trockenzeit © Jörg Matschullat
Carolin Schroeder, Gilvan Coimbra Martins, Sophie von Fromm © Jörg Matschullat
Eines der zahlreichen "Wild"feuer am Straßenrand der BR-319 © Jörg Matschullat