Expedition Down the Amazon

September 29, 2014

Contact: Robert Perkins at (213) 740-9226 or perkinsr@usc.edu

Join USC scientists on a trip down the Amazon River starting in the cloud forests of Peru by checking out a photo slideshow of their voyage here.

Amazon trip

The researchers explored forests’ and rivers’ roles in carbon cycling. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a key greenhouse gas and scientists are eager to understand how carbon dioxide, taken up by plants, is exported as organic carbon in rivers.

Plants soak up CO2, and when they die and decay, some of that CO2 returns to the atmosphere. But some of the carbon washes into rivers and drains to the ocean where, if it survives the journey, some fraction of it is locked away in sediment. Understanding how the Amazon River catchment – the world’s largest water-collection area – transports this carbon is important for understanding the overall impact of rivers on the transport of the world’s carbon.

Follow along with the team as they track carbon transport from the Amazon River’s headwaters in the Andes all the way across Peru and ultimately to the Atlantic Ocean.

The findings of their research, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, were recently published in Geophysical Research Letters. Further details are available online in English and Spanish.