Tropical forests mitigate weather extremes

The 700-hectare Panama watershed experiment, also known as Agua Salud, will run for 20 to 30 years, making it the largest ongoing study of land use in the tropics. “Our project aims to clearly quantify environmental services such as water flow, carbon storage and biodiversity conservation that decision makers will consider as they evaluate projects from forest restoration to watershed management,” said Jefferson Hall, Smithsonian staff scientist and project director.

Urban_Hydrologics_tropical_watershed

Tropical forests reduce peak runoff during storms and release stored water during droughts, according to researchers working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Their results lend credence to a controversial phenomenon known as the sponge effect, which is at the center of a debate about how to minimize flood damage and maximize water availability in the tropics.  During nearly 450 tropical storms, a team of visiting scientists from the University of Wyoming measured the amount of runoff from pastureland, abandoned pastureland and forested land as part of a large-scale land-use experiment in the Panama Canal watershed initiated by STRI.  “Our ultimate objective is to better understand these effects and include this improved understanding in a high-resolution hydrological model that we are developing to predict land-use effects in tropical watersheds.”

Excerpt Text from article by The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Link to article HERE

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. Website: http://www.stri.si.edu.

Text Credits: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, article LINK

Image Credits: From article LINK

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