Cli­mate tower erected in mid­dle of Ama­zon

The China Post - - FEATURE -

Deep in the pris­tine Ama­zon jun­gle, Brazil’s new­est sky­scraper has a mis­sion un­like any other: to save the world.

The white and or­ange me­tal frame called Ama­zon Tall Tower Ob­ser­va­tory, or ATTO, is a bold new tool in the push to un­der­stand cli­mate change and the vi­tal role of rain­forests.

At 325 me­ters, the ATTO is a me­ter higher than the Eif­fel Tower and a good bit taller than Lon­don’s lofti­est build­ing, the Shard.

But in­stead of the typ­i­cal city din of honk­ing horns and en­gines, the loud­est noise around the skinny struc­ture is the chat­ter of ci­cadas and trop­i­cal birds.

Built in the Ua­tuma na­ture re­serve, 350 kilo­me­ters from the city of Manaus and reach­able only af­ter hours of rough roads and a boat ride, the ATTO is se­ri­ously re­mote — and for the cli­mate sci­en­tists that’s the point.

“Be­ing far from towns and man’s in­flu­ence en­sures we can col­lect rel­a­tively pure data,” said Mein­rat An­drae, di­rec­tor of the Max Planck In­sti­tute of Chem­istry, which is part­ner­ing with Brazil­ian re­search agency Inpa on the Ger­man-Brazil­ian funded pro­ject.

The Ama­zon is seen as a big piece of the global warm­ing puz­zle, since trees are a key weapon in safely cap­tur­ing de­struc­tive car­bon gasses. And at 3,000 kilo­me­ters wide, the Ama­zon is the great­est of all rain­forests, known to many as the lungs of the world.

“Thanks to this tower we’ll be able to bet­ter un­der­stand the role of the Ama­zon, its ef­fect on the lo­cal cli­mate and also on the global cli­mate,” said An­to­nio Oci­mar Manzi, one of the Brazil­ian sci­en­tists.

Ris­ing far above even the might­i­est Ama­zo­nian trees, the tower is good place to swap the suf­fo­cat­ing jun­gle heat for fresh air, as long as you don’t mind heights.

Wear­ing a safety har­ness is com- pul­sory as jour­nal­ists are led 150 me­ters up.

The ob­ser­va­tory is the tallest of its kind, beat­ing a sim­i­lar struc­ture known as ZOTTO in Rus­sia’s Siberia re­gion. And ATTO is in a ge­o­graph­i­cal area that has come to sym­bol­ize the whole world’s strug­gle.

Green­house gas emis­sions have rock­eted since the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tury, dan­ger­ously warm­ing the globe, ac­cord­ing to most sci­en­tists.

Healthy forests are one of the best ways to ab­sorb the gasses. But de­for­esta­tion for lum­ber or farm­ing, a ma­jor is­sue in the Ama­zon, is a ma­jor cause of the gasses, since the stored up CO2 is re­leased from the dead tree into the at­mos­phere.

A worst case sce­nario pre­dicted by some mod­els fore­sees a vi­cious cir­cle where global warm­ing and drought kill so much of the Ama­zon that drought in­creases and the re­mains of the jun­gle be­came un­sus­tain­able, lead­ing to even worse global warm­ing.

“The Ama­zon re­gion is of global sig­nif­i­cance: it pro­duces half of the word’s oxy­gen, im­pacts the wa­ter cy­cle through eva­po­ra­tion and sta­bi­lizes the cli­mate,” the Max Planck In­sti­tute for Chem­istry said.

The tower, which cost about US$7.4 mil­lion and con­sists of 15,000 pieces, was in­au­gu­rated last week, but won’t col­lect data un­til later in the year.

The goal is to have ATTO, which links up with two smaller tow­ers of 50 and 80 me­ters, run­ning for 20 to 30 years to al­low a longterm study of the ef­fects of car­bon gasses. Its great height will be a big im­prove­ment on pre­vi­ous meth­ods.

“The 325-me­ter height al­lows the mon­i­tor­ing of an un­prece­dented at­mo­spheric area of nearly 1,000 square kilo­me­ters,” the Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment says.

“This will fill holes in the mon­i­tor­ing and col­lec­tion of data done by satel­lites and other in­stru­ments.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.