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Rainforests and climate

Rainforests are weather makers and climate regulators. Forests affect the weather worldwide by reducing temperature extremes and helping to regulate the climate.

Rainforests help to regulate Earth's climate

Forests in tropical and temperate regions have a cooling effect, whereas boreal forests found in high northern latitudes make their climate warmer.

All forests make the world wetter by sending a huge amount of water vapour into the atmosphere via evapotranspiration.

Here’s a summary of how rainforests help to regulate the Earth’s climate:

  • Air movers: Rainforests enhance the rise of warm, moist air. This powers winds which circulate air around the world
  • Sun reflectors: Massive white clouds form above rainforests which reflect sunlight
  • Rain makers: Rainforests make rain and rain makes rainforests
  • Water sweaters: Water evaporates (transpires) from leaves. This has a cooling effect (just like sweating)
  • Carbon catchers: Forests take in CO₂ from the air as they grow. It’s stored as solid carbon compounds in their wood. 
  • Flood defenders: Rainforest roots and soil hold onto water like a sponge

You can learn more about all of this by visiting The Weather Maker experience on the Rainforest Canopy Walkway.

Scientists researching rainforest and the climate

How is climate change affecting the rainforests?

  • CO₂ levels are rising: they’re the highest they’ve been for 4 million years
  • As CO₂ rises so does the temperatureit’s already warmed 1°C since the Industrial Revolution.
  • Climate models suggest it could warm a further 0.5°C to 5°C by the end of the century – depending on our actions.

In the rainforests this could mean more severe droughts, forest fires and an increase in lightning strikes.

Rainforest research

Eden is working with scientists from the University of Exeter (UoE) and The Met Office to bring you the latest research into rainforests and climate change.

Watch the video on this page to find out about some of their projects.

We’ve created a Research Camp in the Rainforest Biome where you can learn more about this cutting-edge research.