Amazonia is experiencing an increase in the frequency of extreme droughts and wildfires. However, the duration of their impacts on plant mortality and carbon stocks are poorly known, and it is unclear whether impacts are amplified in forests with a history of previous human disturbance.
This study shows that plant mortality rates remain above baseline levels for over 3 years in forests affected by drought and 2.5 years in forests affected by both drought and fire. A history of human disturbance led to greater plant mortality in forests simultaneously affected by drought and fire. The study’s assessment of an area covering 1.2% of the Brazilian Amazon shows that regional drought and fires can have globally relevant impacts on the world’s carbon balance.