The tropics are home to a dizzying array of species, store vast quantities of carbon, drive year-to-year climate variability, and will soon be home to half the world’s population. This Insight gathers together Reviews that explore some of the most important scientific and societal challenges posed by the tropics, and some of the solutions being devised.
The immense biodiversity of tropical ecosystems is threatened by multiple interacting local and global stressors that can only be addressed by the concerted efforts of grassroots organizations, researchers, national governments and the international community.
Tropical forests currently make a neutral contribution to the global carbon cycle, but they are likely to become a carbon source in the near future.
Our current understanding of the spatio-temporal complexity of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomenon is reviewed and a unifying framework that identifies the key factors for this complexity is proposed.