By Ian Randall For Mailonline
Published: 19:59 GMT, 20 November 2020 | Updated: 19:59 GMT, 20 November 2020
Warmer temperatures may benefit parts of the Amazon rainforest, suggesting that the tropical ecosystem may be more resistant to climate change than once thought.
It had previously been thought that water stress brought on by global warming and the drying out of the soil and air would broadly harm the plants of the Amazon.
This would lead to reduced photosynthesis — the chemical process by which plants make food and absorb in carbon dioxide — and help accelerate climate change.
However, US researchers found that wetter areas of the world's largest rainforest actually grow leaves more efficient at photosynthesis when exposed to dry air.
The team warned that there is a limit to this, however, and that excessively warm temperatures would still cause damage to even these resilient parts of the forest.
Warmer temperatures may benefit parts of the Amazon rainforest, pictured, suggesting that the tropical ecosystem may be more resistant to climate change than once thought
'This is the first basin-wide study to demonstrate how, contrary to what models are showing, photosynthesis is in fact increasing in some of the very wet regions of the Amazon rainforest during limited water stress, said paper author Pierre Gentine.
'This increase is linked to atmospheric dryness in addition to radiation and can be largely explained by changes in the photosynthetic capacity of the canopy,' added the environmental scientist from Columbia University in the United States.
'As the trees become stressed, they generate more efficient leaves that can more than compensate for water stress.'
In their study, Dr Gentine and colleagues used machine learning techniques to analyse data from various climate models to determine how changes in air dryness and soil moisture across the tropical regions of the Americas affects photosynthesis.
The compared these analyses with those made of observational remote sensing data collected from satellites passing