According to an analysis by UNU-PREP and the Japan-based UNU Institute for Advanced Studies: "While large parts of the Pantanal have remained pristine, today the ecosystem is under unprecedented pressure from economic development, alterations of its water courses and conversion to other land uses."
"Moreover, global climate change poses great environmental threats to wetlands," according to the analysis, "fundamentally altering their ecology, biodiversity and species composition."
The global threat to the Pantanal: Climate change
The UNU analysis says a warming of 3° to 4°C could eliminate 85% of all remaining wetlands in the world. It says wetlands hold roughly one-sixth of all carbon held in terrestrial sinks, most of it organic matter in soil which can be released when the soil is disturbed, for example through wetlands drainage and destruction.
Already, changes in land use and land cover account for about 1.6 gigatonnes (17%) of annual human-caused carbon emissions, the analysis says. And by 2100, "the terrestrial biosphere, which is at present a carbon sink, is projected to become a carbon source."
"The release, maintenance or enhancement of these stores under a changing climate will in turn potentially affect future climate change."
As temperatures rise, species will migrate towards higher latitudes and altitudes in both hemispheres, and the species composition and functioning of plants will be altered, particularly the efficiency with which they use water.
If the climate changes rapidly, as projected, mismatches may occur between the new climatic conditions and plants that have adapted to current conditions over centuries.
"Maintenance of wetlands in their