Britain pledges funding for carbon dioxide measurement project in Brazilian Amazon

Britain's PM Sunak visits the FCDO Crisis Centre in London

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Britain on Tuesday announced new funding for a landmark scientific experiment deep in Brazil's Amazon rainforest that will measure the impact of rising carbon dioxide levels on trees, the British embassy said.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverley visited the project north of the city of Manaus where scientists are erecting dozens of towers that will inject carbon dioxide into the forest canopy and monitor how the plants absorb it.

The experiment, called AmazonFACE or Free-Air CO2 Enrichment, will help scientists better understand how the tropical forest might respond to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the greenhouse gas driving climate change.

In addition to pushing temperatures higher, the gas can also fertilize plants, with potential impacts on the water cycle. This could dictate how resilient the rainforest will be to climate change in the coming decades.

Results obtained starting in 2024 will be made available to the scientific community worldwide and improve understanding of how the world's largest tropical forest may help sequester some carbon, while also revealing the Amazon's vulnerability to climate change, an embassy statement said.

The project is the work of scientists from the National Institute for Amazonian Research, the University of Campinas in Brazil, and the British Met Office.

Britain is contributing 7.3 million pounds ($9.2 million), or 45 million reais, adding to 32 million reais in Brazilian funds.

Cleverly will launch a climate partnership with Brazil on Wednesday afternoon in Brasilia, before returning home from a tour that included Jamaica, Colombia and Chile.

This month, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged 80 million pounds to the Amazon Fund, a major initiative funded by donors Norway and Germany to fight deforestation and back sustainability projects in the rainforest.

Brazil is home to around 60% of the Amazon, whose rainforest is vital to curbing the impact of climate change because of the vast amount of greenhouse gas it absorbs.

($1 = 0.7923 pounds)

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)