Magazine article USA TODAY

Dry Season Produces Biggest Growth Spurt

Magazine article USA TODAY

Dry Season Produces Biggest Growth Spurt

Article excerpt

The Amazon rain forest puts on its biggest growth spurt during the dry season, show satellite images provided by NASA. "Most of the vegetation around the world follows a general pattern in which plants get green and lush during the rainy season and, then, during the dry season, leaves fall because there is not enough water in the soil to support plant growth," points out researcher Alfredo R. Huete.

"What we found for a large section of the Amazon is the opposite. As soon as the rains stop and you start to enter a dry period, the Amazon becomes alive. New leaves spring out; there's a flush of green growth and the greening continues as the dry season progresses."

The findings hold true only for the undisturbed portion of the rain forest. In areas where the primary forest has been converted to other uses or disturbed, there is "brown down" during the dry season. Huete suggests the long roots of trees in the undisturbed forest can reach deep water supplies even in the dry season, allowing them to flourish during the sunnier, drier part of the year. …

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