UCI News

Study sheds light on future of Amazon River

Amy Townsend-Small in UC Irvine's Earth system science department took a research trip to the Andes Mountains in which she…

July 6, 2007

Amy Townsend-Small in UC Irvine’s Earth system science department took a research trip to the Andes Mountains in which she studied the relationship between Andes rivers and the Amazon River. By analyzing the radiocarbon and stable isotopic composition of organic matter in river waters, she found that under drought conditions, Andean rivers supply little water or nutrients to the Amazon River. This finding suggests that if drought conditions continue, the Amazon will lose a lot of its chemical connection to the Andes, which could result in a decrease of nutrients to feed the rainforest. Townsend-Small conducted the study with colleagues Jorge Noguera of the University of Texas at Austin, Michael McClain of Florida International University, and Jay Brandes of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. The research was published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles.