A region in the state of Amazonas serves as a model laboratory for researchers | AGÊNCIA FAPESP

The GOAmazon project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, FAPESP and FAPEAM, will attempt to reveal how the process of urbanization in the capital affects the Amazon ecosystem

A region in the state of Amazonas serves as a model laboratory for researchers

March 19, 2014

By Karina Toledo, in Manaus

Agência FAPESP – To understand how the process of urbanization of the planet’s tropical regions affects local ecosystems and the global climate, nearly 100 researchers from the United States and Brazil who are part of the Green Ocean Amazon (GOAmazon) project will transform the region of Manaus, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, into a model laboratory.

Several studies will be conducted throughout 2014 and 2015 at four different sites within a radius of 150 kilometers of the Amazonas capital for the purpose of understanding, for example, the interaction between pollution particulates, compounds naturally emitted by the tropical forest and clouds. Another goal of the project is to discover how the processes that produce rain in the tropics occur.

The scientific campaign is financed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), FAPESP and the Amazonas Research Foundation (FAPEAM). Partners also include the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States, the Brazilian Innovation Agency (Finep), the Max Planck Institute of Physics of Germany and several Brazilian and US universities and research institutions.

The GOAmazon project was officially launched in Manaus February 18, 2014, at the National Institute for Research in the Amazon (Inpa), one of the partners.

“This program addresses a global problem. As such, there needs to be a sharing of efforts, competencies and investments to confront the type of challenges that guide GOAmazon. They are challenges that generally have no borders, and the consequences of climate change affect everyone,” said Odenildo Teixeira Sena, secretary of science, technology and innovation of the state of Amazonas during the roundtable discussion.

“The Amazon is a matter of priority for us at the DOE, and we know that the challenge will not be met without this type of partnership,” said Sharlene Weatherwax, associate director of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the DOE.

Reynaldo Victoria, member of the coordinating office of the FAPESP Research Program on Global Climate Change (RPGCC), represented the São Paulo foundation at the event and underscored the entity’s satisfaction with the partnership. “We are very interested in expanding this type of collaboration because only by working together will we be able to achieve something better for Brazil and for science,” he stated.

FAPEAM President Maria Olívia Simão underscored the project’s importance for achieving the goal of internationalizing research in the state of Amazonas and for training young researchers. She further stated that the initial work of the GOAmazon project will result in an extremely rich database that can serve as a basis for a variety of future projects.

Background

In 2013, the three GOAmazon funding agencies issued a joint call for proposals for financing totaling R$24 million – R$12 million offered by the DOE, R$6 million by FAPESP and R$6 million by FAPEAM. Six projects were selected and include such fields as atmospheric systems, terrestrial ecosystem sciences and regional and global climate modeling.

The group of researchers will use equipment from the DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Facility, which is being installed in 11 laboratory containers on the Fazenda Agropecuária Exata S.A., located in the municipality of Manacapuru, 68 kilometers from Manaus. That site also regularly receives a pollution plume from the capital that is carried by winds that blow from east to west in the tropics.

The equipment will be used to measure, among other things, the concentration of gases and particulate material (aerosols) in the atmosphere, the flow of solar and atmospheric radiation, meteorological variables such as temperature, wind speed and direction, humidity, atmospheric pressure and carbon dioxide flow.

Measurements will also be taken at three other research sites using two aircrafts – the DOE’s Gulfstream and the German HALO. The planes are equipped to collect data on trace gases, aerosols and cloud measurements.

The history of GOAmazon began in 2008, before the call for proposals, with the Amazonian Aerosol Characterization Experiment 2008 (AMAZE 08) program, a partnership between the University of São Paulo (USP) Physics Institute and Harvard University, associated with the FAPESP Thematic Project “Aeroclima: direct and indirect effects of aerosols on climate in Amazônia and Pantanal”, coordinated by Paulo Artaxo of USP.

“We noted that there had been a series of extremely relevant scientific inquires that were left unanswered and we realized that, in order to answer them, we would need a broader operation, with help from the ARM system,” stated the researcher. Artaxo and Scot Martin (Harvard) then submitted a proposal to the DOE, which approved it in 2010.

“After that, we realized that the arrival of containers in Manacapuru would not be enough to answer all the questions; we needed to take measurements in regions that did not receive the pollution plume and in sites that received the particulates more directly in order to assess the evolution. Then came the idea of assembling a group of research sites, each having very different characteristics,” said Artaxo, who now coordinates a new thematic project associated with GOAmazon.

Also included in the campaign – to join together forces and equipment – are other projects underway on related topics, such as the thematic project “Cloud processes of the main precipitation systems in Brazil: a contribution to cloud-resolving modeling and to the GPM (Global Precipitation Measurement),” which is coordinated by Luiz Augusto Toledo Machado of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), and the Amazonian Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO), which will have an observation tower measuring 320 meters in height and is coordinated by Antonio Ocimar Manzi of the National Institute for Research in the Amazon (Inpa).

“We are taking advantage of the fact that we have a large city, with nearly two million inhabitants, in a predominantly natural area, where the trade winds remove pollution from the city of Manaus toward the west at least 50% of the time. This way, we will be able to measure and assess the effect of the city’s pollution on the life cycle of aerosols – which serve as a cloud implementation nucleus – and on the life cycle of clouds,” explained Manzi, who is also general manager of GOAmazon in Brazil.

According to Manzi, the findings from the GOAmazon project will allow the improvement of future meteorological and climate models. “In just a few years, we will be better able to represent the systems that cause rains in wet tropical regions in climate models, and we will then be able to use them to project future scenarios of climate change with much more precision,” he stated.

During the launch in Manaus, Andrea Ferreira Portela Nunes from the Office of Ecotourism Management represented the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). Also present at the table were the Manaus Municipal Secretary of the Environment and Sustainability, Katia Helena Cruz and Inpa Acting Director Estevão Vicente Cavalcante Monteiro de Paula.

Among the members of the network of GOAmazon researchers, in attendance were Paulo Artaxo (USP), Karla Longo (Inpe), Luiz Augusto Machado (Inpe), Rodrigo Augusto Ferreira de Souza (State University of Amazonas – UEA), Niro Higuchi (Inpa), Maciel José Ferreira (Federal University of Amazonas – Ufam) and Antonio Ocimar Manzi (Inpa).

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