Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Little evidence that Amazonian rainforests are approaching a tipping point

Matters Arising to this article was published on 09 November 2023

The Original Article was published on 07 March 2022

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Time series of water levels, K-band VOD and radar signals.
Fig. 2: Temporal changes in AR(1) calculated from different microwave datasets.

Data availability

The long-term radar dataset has been made publicly available at Water levels of the Negro River were downloaded from Data for reproducing the results of Tao et al.10 can be downloaded from and

Code availability

Code for this work uses functions maintained at and


  1. Boulton, C. A., Lenton, T. M. & Boers, N. Pronounced loss of Amazon rainforest resilience since the early 2000s. Nat. Clim. Change 12, 271–278 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Moesinger, L. et al. The global long-term microwave Vegetation Optical Depth Climate Archive (VODCA). Earth Syst. Sci. Data 12, 177–196 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bousquet, E. et al. Influence of surface water variations on VOD and biomass estimates from passive microwave sensors. Remote Sens. Environ. 257, 112345 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bartlett, M. K., Klein, T., Jansen, S., Choat, B. & Sack, L. The correlations and sequence of plant stomatal, hydraulic, and wilting responses to drought. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 13098–13103 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Chen, J. L., Wilson, C. R. & Tapley, B. D. The 2009 exceptional Amazon flood and interannual terrestrial water storage change observed by GRACE. Water Resour. Res. 46, 15–34 (2010).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Espinoza, J. C. et al. The major floods in the Amazonas River and tributaries (Western Amazon basin) during the 1970–2012 period: a focus on the 2012 flood. J. Hydrometeorol. 14, 1000–1008 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Espinoza, J. C., Marengo, J. A., Schongart, J. & Jimenez, J. C. The new historical flood of 2021 in the Amazon River compared to major floods of the 21st century: atmospheric features in the context of the intensification of floods. Weather Clim. Extremes 35, 100406 (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Carabajal, C. C. & Harding, D. J. SRTM C-band and ICESat laser altimetry elevation comparisons as a function of tree cover and relief. Photogramm. Eng. Remote Sens. 72, 287–298 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Saatchi, S. et al. Persistent effects of a severe drought on Amazonian forest canopy. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 565–570 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Tao, S. et al. Increasing and widespread vulnerability of intact tropical rainforests to repeated droughts. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 119, e2116626119 (2022).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Machado‐Silva, F. et al. Drought resilience debt drives NPP decline in the Amazon Forest. Glob. Biogeochem. 35, e2021GB007004 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Yang, H. et al. Climatic and biotic factors influencing regional declines and recovery of tropical forest biomass from the 2015/16 El Niño. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 119, e2101388119 (2022).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Asner, G. P. & Alencar, A. Drought impacts on the Amazon forest: the remote sensing perspective. New Phytol. 187, 569–578 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Malhi, Y. et al. Exploring the likelihood and mechanism of a climate-change-induced dieback of the Amazon rainforest. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 20610–20615 (2009).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 31988102 & 32025025), the Special Project for Social Development of Yunnan Province (grant 202103AC100001) and an Investissement d’Avenir grant managed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (CEBA, ref. ANR-10-LABX-25-01; TULIP, ref. ANR-10-LABX-0041; ANAEE-France, ref. ANR-11-INBS-0001). This research was also supported by a Centre National d’ Etudes Spatiales (CNES) postdoctoral fellowship to S.T., the CNES-BIOMASS pluriannual project and the European Space Agency (ESA) Climate Change Initiative (CCI) Biomass project (contract 4000123662/18/I-NB). P.C. acknowledges support from the ESA CCI RECCAP2 project (ESRIN/4000123002/18/I-NB).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



S.T., J.-P.W., J.C. and P.C. designed the research. S.T., J.-P.W., J.C., P.C., Z.T., Z.W., J.Z., Q.G. and Y.Y.L. analysed the data. S.T., J.-P.W., J.C. and P.C. wrote the initial draft. All authors discussed and made substantial contributions to successive drafts.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Shengli Tao or Jean-Pierre Wigneron.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Peer review

Peer review information

Nature Climate Change thanks Albertus J. Dolman, Bernardo Flores and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods and References for the method text.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tao, S., Wigneron, JP., Chave, J. et al. Little evidence that Amazonian rainforests are approaching a tipping point. Nat. Clim. Chang. 13, 1317–1320 (2023).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing