How Has Deforestation Affected the Water Cycle?

There are billions of trees being cut down and burned every year for urbanization, infrastructure, and agriculture, and to supply wood for construction, manufacture, and fuel.

Since the dawn of civilization, the world’s tree population has decreased by 46 percent, according to data from 2015.

Trees play an important role in the earth’s water cycle because they absorb and release water through their leaves.

So, how has deforestation affected the water cycle?

Humidity levels are affected when trees are cut down in a region, which has an impact on how water cycles work.

Deforestation disrupts the forests’ ability to recycle water, resulting in less rainfall, increased global warming, and other effects of climate change.

trees are cut down

Table of Contents

What is the purpose of forests?

As a reservoir of water, forests steadily release water into the environment, ensuring that the water cycle continues to operate without interruption.

The Amazon rainforest, for example, with its more than 390 billion trees, has a tremendous impact on the water cycle in the surrounding regions.

Since 1970, about 17 percent of it has been lost to fire or other natural disasters.

Deforestation disrupts the forest’s ability to recycle water, resulting in less rainfall, climate change, and global warming.

The connection between deforestation and water cycle problems

The circulation of water in the atmosphere is referred to as the water cycle. Biological elements coexist with the majority of the processes in the water cycle.

The water cycle is disrupted when deforestation alters the mechanism of transpiration. One of the most important functions of trees is to store and then gently release water from the soil.

Clouds arise as a result of evaporation, and rain is produced as a result of this process.


Taking down a large number of trees disrupts evaporation and reduces the amount of moisture available to maintain the water cycle.

There is a risk of drought in crucial agricultural areas as a result of this. Deforestation also affects precipitation levels by reducing the aquifer’s capacity.

The transpiration of trees’ leaves contributes to the movement of water from liquid to gas in the atmosphere.

It’s a natural process for trees to store and release water into the sky. In addition to protecting the land from storms, these layers of foliage also block the passage of runoff and increase warmth.

The impact of deforestation on temperature and rainfall

As a result of deforestation, temperatures rise because there are fewer trees. Without evaporation, the earth’s temperature rises and energy levels soar.

An erratic rainfall pattern emerges as a result of this. Deforestation in Texas, for example, has resulted in a reduction in rainfall of 25 percent.

Agriculture’s productivity is significantly impacted by these changes.

In addition, the increased heat will lead temperatures to rise, resulting in a worsening drought.

In turn, this will lead to an increase in both the frequency and the extent of global warming.

temperatures to rise

Large volumes of water are released into the atmosphere when trees grow and mature.

To maintain the water cycle, this water replaces the clouds and causes rain.

Deforestation, on the other hand, reduces the amount of water in the atmosphere, reducing the amount of vital rain that falls.

In the absence of rain, the remaining water evaporates, making the area permanently dry.

Does deforestation increase carbon dioxide levels?

In addition, trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is essential to the water cycle.

Also, the removal of forests increases worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases by around 24 percent, a factor that contributes to climate change.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that deforestation is the second greatest driver of climate change after human activities.

As a result, even though many people consider deforestation a minor matter, it is a serious one.

The effects of deforestation on water quality

The quality of water can be significantly impacted by the removal of forests. In addition, the loss of trees in forests might have an impact on the climate.

Soil erosion

Destruction of the watershed is a significant consequence of deforestation. Soil erosion is one of the most damaging effects of deforestation.

Without trees, there is no way to hold soil in place, and this leads to erosion.

The loss of forest land leads to an increase in soil erosion, which in turn leads to an increase in sediment flux and water turbidity.

Because of this, the quality of the water used for drinking is deteriorating, and the expense of treating it is going up.

People will have harder difficulty getting to clean water as a result.

How does deforestation impact clean drinking water?

Here’s a real example of deforestation’s impact on potable water. Clean drinking water is linked to forests in Malawi, an African country with a high rate of deforestation, according to studies in the area.

There was a 9 percent drop in precipitation due to a 14 percent reduction in forest cover.

That demonstrates the importance of trees in preserving water bodies. Clearing forests for agricultural purposes reduces the amount of potable water that can be made available to people.

drinking water

Ultimately, experts believe that their findings will help individuals make better judgments about the protection of their drinking water.

The water quality of forests’ catchments may be in jeopardy because of their importance. Because of this, stopping deforestation must be a top priority.

The overall impacts of deforestation on the water cycle

The water cycle is adversely affected in numerous ways by deforestation. The region will grow barren and dry if no trees are planted.

In addition, these locations will run out of freshwater if it doesn’t rain. As a result, the area has been reduced to a desolate wasteland.

Carbon is also stored and released by trees.

Deforestation, on the other hand, harms the carbon cycle. The amount of precipitation that falls in a given area is greatly influenced by the forest’s function in the water cycle.

Water supplies will be depleted if trees are not conserved, which will lead to a decrease in rainfall.

There will be a huge decrease in the amount of clean water available to people as a result.

Worldwide, forest cover is dwindling at an alarming rate. There are billions of trees being cut down and burned every year for agriculture, infrastructure, and urbanization and to supply wood for construction, manufacture, and fuel.

water cycle

The water cycle is a fascinating subject, but if you’re a teacher or a student, you may be missing a piece of the puzzle: forests.

Are humans threatened by deforestation?

Human life is in danger because of deforestation. Trees are essential to our survival. Deforestation has a direct impact on the indigenous populations that call forests home, many of which are threatened by the destruction of their natural habitats.

Trees’ function in carbon sequestration raises the specter of yet another peril. Forest fires release carbon that has been stored in the trees as well as destroy a source of carbon sequestration.

Wildfires in the Amazon rainforest have become so common that the jungle has recently begun producing more carbon dioxide than it absorbs.

Trees also have the unacknowledged duty of purifying our drinking water. The water cycle is impacted by deforestation.

Ways that water reaches the atmosphere

Water evaporates from bodies of water and rises to the atmosphere, where it condenses into clouds before returning to Earth in the form of rain, snow, and hail.

Water evaporates

In addition to evaporation, water reaches the atmosphere in other ways.

Transpiration is the process through which trees and other plants absorb water from the soil via their roots and subsequently expel it into the atmosphere through their leaves.

This is a critical step in the process of obtaining water.

By clearing forests, this water-holding capacity is lost, and transpiration loss has several negative effects.

The destruction of forests, which are a major source of rainfall, results in prolonged periods of drought.

Where does deforestation affect the water cycle most?

Deforestation affects the water cycle most in places that used to be heavily forested.

However, deforestation may have a global impact on the water cycle. It is thanks to rainforests that individuals living outside of the tropics can access water.

Moisture from rainforests is carried around the world by wind currents. Regions further inland, where evaporation from the ocean is insufficient as a precipitation source, rely on this “river in the sky” for an especially important water supply.

“The clearance of rainforests…could represent a serious risk to agriculture in key breadbaskets halfway across the world in areas of the United States, India, and China,” according to a World Resources Institute working paper.

clearance of rainforest

How transpiration affects the climate

Transpiration has an impact on the climate as well. Transpiration consumes the majority of the solar energy that trees get through their leaves.

In other words, instead of heating the air surrounding trees, the energy that would have been utilized for that process is used to cool the air in forests.

Deforestation increases local warming by slowing this process.

Contrary to expectations, the upper atmosphere above rainforests is unusually devoid of ozone.

Transpiration releases water vapor into the atmosphere, which heats the air above the canopy.

Thus, deforestation cools the air over tropical regions at a local level. However, this local cooling kicks off chain reactions that lead to warming in other areas, making this a net negative benefit.

Could the snowpack be affected by deforestation?

Modeling studies by the American Meteorological Society have shown how deforestation of Amazon rainforests could reduce the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains by up to 50 percent, denying Californians an essential water supply.

 Sierra Nevada mountains

For example, using this application, you can encourage your pupils to investigate data about deforestation.

Do forests act as canopies?

To keep soil from being worn away by wind and water, trees grow a network of roots deep into the ground.

In addition, the canopy acts as a rain deflector, reducing the force of the rain as it falls. As a result of their extensive root systems, trees help preserve healthy soil and filter hazardous chemicals before they enter waterways.

Rainwater that hasn’t been filtered through trees floods pollutants into neighboring waterways, hurting fish and making it difficult to find safe drinking water.

Floods and mudslides are also more likely to occur in deforested areas.

Can the water cycle function without trees?


The water cycle can’t function without trees. Our ecology and very existence are in danger because of deforestation.

To save the world’s woods, we must battle for clean air and water to breathe and solid ground on which to stand.