Deforestation increases chances of storms in West Africa - new research
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Cape Town - Deforestation helps increase the frequency of afternoon storms in parts of coastal West Africa, a new study has found.
The study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that the bigger the clear-cut area in deforestation - the purposeful clearing of forested land - the more the storms are enhanced.
According to research website Scientific American, rainstorms and floods in parts of coastal West Africa are expected to grow more severe as the climate continues to warm.
It cited the uthors of the study, led by Christopher Taylor of the U.K. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, as saying forests help regulate the local climate.
In coastal West Africa, which is nestled close to the ocean, deforestation has a big impact. Warmer temperatures over land strengthen the sea breeze blowing in from the water. The breeze helps trigger the formation of thunderstorms, and the result is more heavy rainstorms.
According to National Geographic, throughout history and into modern times, forests have been razed to make space for agriculture and animal grazing, and to obtain wood for fuel, manufacturing, and construction.
But deforestation can result in more carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
National Geographic writes that when trees are burned, this carbon returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. With fewer trees around to take in the carbon dioxide, this greenhouse gas accumulates in the atmosphere and accelerates global warming.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says deforestation is the second-leading cause of climate change, the first being the burning of fossil fuels.
Deforestation accounts for nearly 20% of greenhouse gas emissions, says the UN.