UFSC groundbreaking study in Nature journal reveals the thresholds to avoiding collapse in the Amazon

04/03/2024 12:28

Drone view of the Amazon River and the Amazon rainforest, in Peru (Photo by André Dib)

An unprecedented and holistic approach to the Amazon forest resilience, developed by a team of scientists from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) and other institutions, is featured in the Nature journal, one of the most relevant scientific journals in the world. The research carries out a comprehensive data review and draws up scenarios based on the mapping of five major drivers of water stress affecting the region: global warming, annual rainfall, rainfall seasonality intensity, dry season length and accumulated deforestation. In addition, it points out possible ways of changing the scenario to avoid collapse. The estimate is that in the next 25 years, 10% to 45% of the Amazon could reach a tipping point, with unexpected transitions in the landscape.

The research is conducted by scientist Bernardo Monteiro Flores, postdoctoral researcher in Ecology at UFSC, supervised by professor Marina Hirota, co-author of this study. Along with them, Catarina Jakovac, from the Department of Plant Science, and Carolina Levis, from the Graduate Program in Ecology, also signed the article, which includes renowned scientists such as one of the most cited Brazilian experts in climatology in the world, Carlos Nobre.

Study is on the cover of Nature

The detailed analysis, which was the subject of a report released in 2021 that brought updated data from new perspectives, presents evidence of the Amazon forest approaching the critical threshold – what scientists call the “tipping point”. Using satellite images, climate observation data, climate models and paleoecology, researchers were able to understand the forest main stress factors and how the interaction between them can further accelerate the destruction of an ecosystem.

“All the effects of stress are water related. For each of these five major drivers there are critical thresholds. And the interaction between the stress drivers can have a synergistic effect”, the researcher points out. “We used all available knowledge to understand the thresholds at which the forest could cease to exist”.

Boundary of deforastation is 10% of the original forest biome cover

The group of scientists suggests that the temperature must not fluctuate above 1.5 °C,

with annual rainfall up to 1,800 mm. The cumulative water deficit must not be above -350mm, as well as the dry season must not last more than 5 months. Lastly, the safe boundary of deforastation is 10% of the original forest biome cover, which requires restoring at least 5% of the biome.

Flores explains that rainfall is essential for the forest life. Every day, the forest trees pump a huge amount of water – up to 500 liters for a single tree – from the ground to the atmosphere, which increases the atmospheric moisture. Besides eliminating water, the trees also release volatile organic compounds that contribute to cloud formation. “The trees are natural rain factories”, he explains.

Drone view of an Area of Relevant Ecological Interest (Photo by André Dib)

In addition, winds in the Amazon region flow predominantly from east to west, carrying clouds and moisture, which increase rainfall along the way. This mechanism, called “positive feedback”, results in the forests’ ability to increase rainfall, which contributes to their resilience. This is considered “the main reason for which the Amazon remained covered by forest throughout 65 million years (Cenozoic era), despite climate change”.

The scenario now is starting to change, especially as a result of climate change and soil use. Warming temperatures, extreme droughts, deforestation and fires affect internal parts of the system. “The feedback mechanisms that increase forest resilience are losing strength and are being replaced by novel feedbacks that increase the risk of a critical transition”, they point out in the article.

“The most important mechanism which has been keeping the forest alive all this time is the recycling of rainfall. Therefore, the forest needs the rain that falls and which is recycled by the forest itself in order to exist”, explains the researcher. “The forest has never experienced what it is experiencing now in terms of climate, when the effects of drought and high temperatures are combined”.

Global risk

 The idea of a collapse in the Amazon forest is disturbing for a number of reasons, but one in particular has caught the world’s attention – the risk of disrupting the global climate system. “The Amazon stores huge amounts of carbon. Forest loss will result in carbon emissions that may accelerate global warming within 15 to 20 years”, the scientists indicate.

Recent observations of the forest’s carbon flux revealed that the southeastern Amazon has turned from a carbon sink into a carbon source, probably due to disturbances in soil use. “Moreover,  forest loss in the Amazon not only reduces the atmospheric moisture flow in the region but it can also affect precipitation conditions in other parts of the world, such as Asia or the Antarctica.”

Drone view of a recent illegal deforestation in the indigenous territory Uru-eu-wau-wau in Roraima, in 2019 (Photo by Andre Dib)

The study also addresses another aspect of preservation, discussing the role of biodiversity and indigenous peoples and local communities in shaping the Amazon forest resilience. “These elements of the system have contributed to increasing the ecosystem adaptability, providing different strategies to deal with climate change”, the researchers point out. “Today, the changes in soil use in the region are destroying the biodiversity and the ancient ecological knowledge of the Amazonian  peoples who have maintained healthy and resource-rich forests for thousands of years”, said Caroline Levis, who holds a doctoral degree from UFSC and is one of the authors of this study.

Professor Marina Hirota highlights that the Amazon is a complex system, which makes it extremely challenging to predict how the different types of forest will respond to global change. “If we want to avoid a systemic transition, we must follow a precautionary approach and take actions which will maintain the forests resilient for the next decades”, she stated.

The authors also indicate that in order to maintain the Amazon forest resilience, it is necessary to have a combination of local and global efforts. They also point out that, locally, Amazonian countries need to cooperate to end deforestation and degradation and to expand restoration, which will reinforce forest-rainfall feedback.

Intentionally-set forest fire (Photo by Andre Dib)

These actions, according to the researchers, can benefit from a strong governance within indigenous territories and protected areas. “All countries need to cooperate to stop greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating the impacts of climate change. Both fronts are crucial to maintain the forest system for future generations”.

According to Flores, the holistic approach of the research is relevant and unprecedented, since it deals with a complex system, also taking into consideration the human factor. “To be able to maintain the forest more resilient, we must monitor all the stress drivers and their interactions. We use the precautionary principle: since we cannot tell what is going to happen and the consequences are dreadful, the threshold idea is to keep us away from a disaster”.

From savannas to grasslands, with only a few species: what would be the end of the Amazon forest?

Among its findings, the study outlines the scenarios and landscapes which could occur after the Amazon collapse. Forest degraded areas already have their landscape altered as a result of the interaction between stress drivers. “These alternative trajectories may be irreversible or transient depending on the strength of the novel interactions”, point out the researchers in the article.

For instance, in the ‘degraded forest’, feedbacks often involve competition between trees and other opportunistic plants, as well as interactions between deforestation, fire and seed limitation. Secondary forests are more likely to be cleared than mature forests.

Degraded areas can take over the forest. Igapó forest in the middle of the Amazon, mid Rio Negro, after catching on fire twice (Photo by Bernardo Flores)

In another degradation scenario, the feedbacks involve interactions between low tree cover and fire, soil erosion and seed limitation. Therefore, the landscape would be invasive grasses and opportunistic plants. Far from agricultural areas and pastures, the savanna landscape can also be the outcome of interactions between stress elements from the forest, which can occur after repeated fires, for instance.

What may happen is that the Amazon will not necessarily cease to be a forest, but will have very different areas, with less diversity, dominated by one or few species that self-perpetuate, like forests dominated by lianas and bamboos”, Flores summarizes.

Biodiversity is threatened by forest collapse (Photo by Andre Dib)

“We discuss how the inherent complexity of the Amazon adds uncertainty about future dynamics, but also reveals opportunities for action. Keeping the Amazon forest resilient in the Anthropocene will depend on a combination of local efforts to end deforestation and degradation and to expand restoration, with global efforts to stop greenhouse gas emissions”, the experts say.

How to prevent the Amazon forest collapse, according to the study:

Global warming: to avoid large-scale ecosystem transitions, scientists indicate a safe-boundary for the Amazon forest at 1.5 °C for global warming above pre-industrial levels, in concert with the Paris Agreement goals.

Annual rainfall: experts suggest a safe boundary in annual rainfall conditions at 1,800 mm.

Rainfall seasonality intensity: satellite observations of tree cover distributions across tropical South America suggest a critical threshold in rainfall seasonality intensity at −400 mm of the maximum cumulative water deficit.  To avoid local-scale collapses due to compounding disturbances, it is suggested a safe boundary at −350 mm.

Dry season length: satellite observations of tree cover distributions across tropical South America suggest a critical threshold at 7 months of dry season length.  To avoid local-scale ecosystem transitions, scientists suggest a safe boundary at five months.

Accumulated deforestation: the scientists suggest a safe boundary of accumulated deforestation of 10% of the original forest biome cover, which requires ending large-scale deforestation and restoring at least 5% of the biome.

UFSC is among the five best Brazilian federal universities according to international ranking

28/09/2023 13:53

The Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) is among the five best Brazilian higher education institutions according to the  Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2024, published on Wednesday, 27 September 2023. UFSC was ranked among the 801-1000 best in the world.

Universities are evaluated based on 13 performance indicators which are grouped into five pillars: Teaching, Research Environment, Research Quality, Industry and International Outlook. UFSC stood out in the Industry (64.2) pilar.

The Times Higher Education (THE) is a British magazine that publishes news and articles on higher education and prepares, annually, a set of rankings considered one of the most comprehensive, balanced, and reliable in the world. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024 includes more than 1.904 universities from 108 countries/regions.

 Access the full rankings results here.

Translated by SINTER/UFSC.

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UFSC strengthens agenda with institutions from Japan and Singapore

16/12/2022 19:26

The Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina is studying partnerships in specialized areas with seven universities, three from Japan and four from Singapore. The networking began during an international mission that lasted 15 days and ended on 26 November.  The Prorector for Research and Innovation, Jacques Mick, was part of the group led by the Support Foundation for Research and Innovation of the State of Santa Catarina (Fapesc) and by the Santa Catarina Association of Educational Foundations (Acafe). The visit was sponsored by the Santa Catarina government, interested in expanding the mechanisms of cooperation between the state, universities, and the private sector to promote development.

According to the Prorector, both Japan and Singapore have similar priorities to those that mobilize much of the community of scientists at UFSC, with emphasis on issues such as understanding, mitigating, and coping with climate change; sustainability, including the development of new materials, renewable energy, circular economy, etc.; the promotion of health, including biomedicine and medicines; and also the reduction of exposure to disasters. “The countries have very unique political systems and very high HDI’s, so the issues related to the rise of authoritarianism, quality in education, and fighting hunger and poverty are no longer present,” he said.

Some of the approaches pointed out by Mick as possible partnership activities, strengthened by the embassies, are the Brazil-Japan and Brazil-Singapore academic collaboration programs for visiting professors exchange; dissemination of advanced research portfolios of UFSC and other universities from Santa Catarina in those countries and the dissemination of funding sources for international research collaboration available in Japan and Singapore. “In terms of bilateral cooperation, the mission had contact with research structures of six universities and one polytechnic institute. Three out of the three Japanese and four Singaporean institutions are among the best in the world,” he added.

The Prorector also pointed out other positive aspects of the international mission for UFSC. Based on the results, the Prorectorate for Research and Innovation (PROPESQ) intends to collaborate with Sinter in the preparation of a portfolio of advanced research at UFSC, in various areas of knowledge, to be published in English and other languages. Moreover, as the mission was made up of several state institutions, Mick also perceives a scenario of possible inter-institutional approach with the network of community universities in Santa Catarina.

Fapesc’s mission brought together the institutions of the federal system (UFSC, UFFS, IFSC, and IFC), the community universities of the Acafe system, a private non-profit institution (SATC) and Unisenai, of the Fiesc system. “The extended interaction of the managers over 16 days promoted dialogues towards an inter-institutional connection. The topic is of interest to UFSC”, reinforces the professor.

For Fábio Zabot Holthausen, Fapesc’s president, the results of the contacts established, the information exchanged and the knowledge acquired are already visible in the integration among the academic leaderships from Santa Catarina. “We were able to have a close look at something that until then was an obstacle to international partnerships and to study ways to enable new possibilities for knowledge exchange. We were received with enthusiasm and in many of the institutions we visited we have planted the seeds for the future. We have a lot of work ahead of us based on the contacts made in Asia. We are convinced that the future of these relations will be very prosperous,” he added.


Information: PROPESQ and FAPESC.


Translated by SINTER/UFSC.

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U.S. Consul General meets Rector to discuss partnerships for the construction of the indigenous student residence

08/12/2022 12:08

On 5 December, members of the Central Administration had a meeting with the Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Porto Alegre, Shane Christensen, and the Cultural Attaché, Beata Angelica, at the Rector´s Office. The meeting aimed at discussing the resource feasibility for the implementation of the indigenous student residence project at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), Florianópolis Campus.

In addition to the Rector Irineu Manoel de Souza and the vice-rector Joana Célia dos Passos, the meeting was also attended by the Prorector for Affirmative Action and Equity (Proafe), Leslie Sedrez Chaves, the Director of the Rector´s Office, João Luiz Martins, and the International Programs Coordinator at the Office of International Relations (Sinter), Guilherme Carlos da Costa.

They discussed possibilities of cooperation to promote economy, social inclusion, education and culture in the state of Santa Catarina, specially the implementation of actions that allow for the consolidation of the residence for the students from the “Ocupação Maloca”.

“We are prioritizing the diversity and social inclusion, equity and accessibility, because our democracies are facing a high risk due to inequality and social exclusion” stated Shane when highlighting that the American government representatives in Brazil seek to promote partnerships with American companies from the private sector to offer support.

De Souza pointed out that the University’s current administration has social inclusion as one of its main priorities and the lack of housing for indigenous people is a big problem at the university.  “In the last few years, the University has been receiving people who are being neglected by the State policies. The fact that they are admitted to the university does not guarantee their retention and successful completion of their program.  Nowadays, our main concern is to ensure the retention of the students who are facing new challenges every single day in this country”, said the vice-rector, Joana, recollecting the 150 days of this administration and the actions taken regarding the theme.

The U.S diplomats proposed to have representatives of UFSC indigenous students to join the group of young leaders promoted by the State Department of the United States. Moreover, they discussed organizing events and seminars involving the academic community in order to show them the mobility programs and opportunities available in American companies.

The Prorector for Affirmative Actions and Equity, Leslie Sedrez Chaves, reinforced the importance of having a close relationship with the United States, which is a strong country in the fight for the Civil Rights. “We are following the United States footsteps regarding affirmative actions adapted to the Brazilian reality. Recently we had the Policy for Confronting Institutional Racism approved in the institution, which shows that we have clear guidelines towards equity promotion actions.”


Indigenous students hand in the Residence Project to the U.S. Consul General

At the end of the meeting, a group of indigenous students along with their leaders presented themselves at the Rector´s Office to hand in the architectural project of the Residence. The project was designed in partnership with the Department of Architecture and Urbanism of UFSC.

Thairaa Priprá, a psychology student, who is a member of the movement “Ocupação Maloca UFSC”, emphasized that indigenous students’ struggle for housing has been happening since 2016. “Every piece of this project was designed jointly with the students of the ‘Ocupação Maloca’. We have been working for five years and today we seek partnerships to make this project feasible, because UFSC also has a lot to gain with it,” she said.

Brasílio Priprá, the representative of the Xokleng people, mentioned in his speech that the diversity of indigenous peoples at UFSC makes the institution a transparent and inclusive place. “The indigenous peoples protect the environment and the U.S. has supported the Brazilian people. Therefore, we ask you to help us: help the students build the ‘Maloca’ again”, he said.

The representative of the U.S Consulate General in Brazil has been able to create connections and strengthen bonds between peoples. The Cultural Attaché, Beata Angélica, emphasized the strength of the indigenous peoples and asked the students not to give up on completing their studies. “Remain in the university and complete your degrees, because this is a great opportunity for your lives. We are here to open doors for collaboration, we want to support you in the fight for equality and this is the role of the diplomatic contribution”.


Translated by SINTER/UFSC.

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UFSC approves Policy for Confronting Institutional Racism

30/11/2022 15:01

The Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) took a decisive step in the fight against intolerance in the university environment. On 29 November,  the University Council (CUn) has unanimously approved, in an ordinary session, the Policy for Confronting Institutional Racism, which is a set of rules divided into seven chapters, providing guidance from the identification of discriminatory acts to how to report, to follow-up and to offer support to the victims. The final document is the result of the direct effort of a group of more than 30 people, comprising representatives of UFSC and social movements, among others; in addition to a plural debate promoted by a public hearing at the beginning of the month.

The session that approved the Policy for Confronting Institutional Racism was not only attended by CUn counselors. The reading of the document draft and the voting were followed by students, faculty, technical-administrative staff members and representatives of social movements, such as the Movimento Negro Unificado [Unified Black Movement], which has been active in Brazil for over 40 years.

Professor Thainá Castro Costa Figueiredo Lopes, representative of the School of Philosophy and Human Sciences (CFH) at CUn, was the rapporteur in the process and recommended the approval of the policy, considering the document to be “an important tool for reducing inequality and democratizing knowledge.” After reading the draft, the counselors had the opportunity to suggest changes and ask questions about the final text. The suggestions were accepted by the working group responsible for the definitive text. The proposal was unanimously approved around 6 p.m, under everyone’s applause.

Watch the comment of the rector of UFSC after the CUn meeting:

Against all discrimination, in defense of all.

The Policy for Confronting Institutional Racism lists different forms of discrimination that must be dealt with at the university. Thus, Nazism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and hate speech against religions, among others, are also included as aggressions. The document also lists Epistemic Racism as a practice to be fought. It is described as undermining the value of scientific productions merely because they do not comply with Western canons. It was emphasized by representatives of social movements as a significant progress of UFSC’s Policy for Confronting Institutional Racism.

In addition to the concern about students, faculty, and technical administrative staff members, the document approved by the CUn also establishes guidelines on how to deal with cases of racism involving employees of outsourced companies working for the university and the community in general. The Policy for Confronting Institutional Racism indicates how to deal with these episodes while supporting the victims and opening channels for them to report the aggressions.

In addition, the document presents the educational character about the theme that the university must adopt. Thus, courses to train the university community on how to confront and prevent aggression should be promoted. There are plans to institutionalize the theme in the curricula and provide specific training for those who will work directly with the victims.

Historic Session right in Novembro Negro [Black November]

During the CUn session, after reading the draft of the document, counselors, students, and members of social movements reinforced the importance of the Policy for Confronting Institutional Racism. Many referred to the day as “historic.” The vice-rector of UFSC, Joana Célia dos Passos, pointed out that the approval of the draft took place within the scope of Novembro Negro – a set of events that celebrate Black Awareness Day at the University. “By implementing this policy, we have the opportunity to change Brazilian society,” highlighted the vice-rector. In the end, the rector of UFSC, Irineu Manoel de Souza, who chaired CUn, closed the session under applause: “All this work was only possible thanks to the effort of the group,” he said moved.


Translated by SINTER/UFSC.

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UFSC will require proof of vaccination against Covid-19 for first-year enrollment in undergraduate programs

23/02/2022 13:00

Candidates approved for admission to undergraduate programs at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) in 2022 will have to present proof of vaccination against Covid-19 to be able to enroll at the University.

The obligation is for those approved in the UFSC Entrance Examination (Vestibular) 2022, in the Unified Selection System (SiSU/Enem), and in the complementary selection processes: additional seats for the Black Ethnic-Racial Group/2022; additional seats for Indigenous People and Quilombolas/2022; Entrance Exam UFSC/2022 – Rural Education; Entrance Exam UFSC 2022 – Brazilian Sign Language; and Entrance Exam UFSC 2022 – Indigenous Intercultural Education. Students admitted as transfer and returning students must also present proof of vaccination.

The determination is contained in the Normative Resolution no. 103/2022/CGRAD, unanimously approved by the UFSC Undergraduate Studies Council on 9 February.

The proof will have to be presented together with the other documents required for enrollment at UFSC. Students will have to present to their Program’s Coordination Office a proof of immunization with at least one dose of the vaccine.

The vaccination certificate issued on the ConectSUS platform or a “vaccination voucher/booklet/card/passport printed on letterhead, issued at the time of vaccination by a Brazilian or foreign government institution, with legible data and correct identification of the bearer” will be accepted as proof according to the Resolution.

Persons with a medical contraindication to vaccination will be able to carry out the initial enrollment by presenting a medical certificate of the contraindication. The medical certificate must detail the medical reasons for the contraindication and, in case of doubts on the part of the Coordinators at the time of enrollment, the certificate may be sent to the Student Administration Department (DAE) and a Medical Committee to assess the adequacy of the contraindication. Anyone who does not present proof of vaccination or certificate of contraindication will not be able to enroll at UFSC.

The Prorector for Graduate Studies, Professor Daniel de Santana Vasconcelos, recalls that there was already a requirement for proof of vaccination to participate in the University Entrance Examination and in the other in-person selection processes for admission to UFSC undergraduate programs in 2022. “This is a control situation for the first-year students’ semester”, he says. He points out that the process involves a smaller number of students, distributed in almost a hundred programs, which makes the presentation of documents to Program Coordinators possible.

The committee appointed by the Rector to propose the conditions for the immunization requirements at UFSC is preparing a broader regulation in relation to the “vaccination passport”, which should be valid for all UFSC students, taking into account the planning for the beginning of the 2022/1 academic semester.

The committee is chaired by the Prorectorate for Undergraduate Studies (PROGRAD) and composed of members from the Prorectorate for Student Affairs (PRAE), the Prorectorate for Graduate Studies (PROPG), the Prorectorate for Administration (PROAD), the Prorectorate for Personnel Management and Development (PRODEGESP), the Office of Planning and Budget (SEPLAN), the University Library (BU), and the Superintendency of Electronic Governance and Information and Communication Technology (SeTIC), in addition to the Rector’s Office.

“For all University students, we are planning, as is happening in the case of faculty and staff, a specific system or platform to load and control information, robust enough to handle a large volume of people providing information; after all, there are more than 30,000 undergraduate students and 10,000 graduate students”, says the Prorector for Undergraduate Studies.

Translated by SINTER/UFSC.

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UFSC and partner institutions launch Pan American Network for Environmental Epidemiology on Monday, 29

30/11/2021 19:20

The Laboratory of Applied Virology of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology of the School of Biological Sciences (MIP/CCB) at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), together with other governmental and academic institutions from 14 Latin American countries, launched on Monday, 29 November, the Pan American Network for Environmental Epidemiology (Panacea). The Panacea network is capable of obtaining real-time data to detect microbiological and chemical risks in the region. In addition, it seeks to develop and implement new molecular tools for application in environmental epidemiology, as well as to train professionals capable of producing, analyzing, and interpreting data.

The initiative has collaboration with the University of Newcastle, the Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, the Karolinska Institute, and MGI Tech. Panacea is also supported by the Northumbrian Water Group and the Suez Group, and aims to expand the current analytical capabilities of Latin American and Caribbean countries to implement Wastewater-Based Epidemiology (WBE) programs.


The network co-creation project, led by the University of Newcastle, has begun sequencing historical and contemporary samples across Latin America to determine the variants of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the region. The research assesses the real-time prevalence and genomic variants of the virus in major cities across the continent. The team is also preparing to expand the network’s work in monitoring antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and other infectious agents.

Research on Environmental Epidemiology in Brazil

Through this project, the Laboratory of Applied Virology at UFSC becomes one of the focal points of the network in Brazil, together with the Environmental Company of the State of São Paulo (Cetesb). “LVA has been working with environmental surveillance in sewage in Santa Catarina since 1993, as an alert system for epidemiological surveillance of environmental viruses and fecal-oral excretion,” says the coordinator of the Virology Laboratory, Professor Gislaine Fongaro. LVA’s environmental surveillance work was also applied during the pandemic, together with the UFSC Task Force against Covid-19, consisting of the Applied Virology Laboratories, Protozoology Laboratory, Bioinformatics Laboratory and the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Serology (LBMMS).

“In early May 2020, the Laboratory of Applied Virology expanded its studies by also focusing on SARS-CoV-2 in sewage in Florianopolis, as well as evaluating retrospective sewage from the capital of Santa Catarina. Soon after, it followed up during the 2020-2021 summer season the viral circulation in Florianópolis-SC, inviting LACEN (Environment) for collaboration. Then, in August 2021, we started to seek support from city halls, knocking on doors, as well as from municipal health supervisors, consortiums and concessionaires that manage sanitation for the purpose of expanding the project to several cities in Santa Catarina and not only to the capital”, says Gislaine. This broad study includes Campos Novos, Capinzal, Chapecó, Concórdia, Curitibanos, Florianópolis, Herval d’ Oeste, Itajaí, Joaçaba, Joinville, São Miguel do Oeste, and Videira, and is part of an Outreach action, part of the Integrative Environmental Epidemiological Surveillance (VigEAI) project.

“The Panacea network provides the integration of studies and strengthening of epidemiology based on sewage monitoring, as a sentinel tool in Latin America, and our studies may help in this reinforcement,” concludes virologist, professor and researcher at UFSC, Gislaine Fongaro.

Translated by SINTER/UFSC

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Animation produced by Special Student from UFSC is selected to participate on the Science Film Festival

25/11/2021 20:13

An animation produced by a special student from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) was featured in the selection of the Science Film Festival, the largest scientific film festival in the world. The animated series Sonhos da Isah (Dreams of Isah) was conceived and produced by João Ricardo Costa, a publicist who, through classes in Film studies and Performing Arts at UFSC, acquired the necessary basis to transpose to the screen his desire to produce an animation. The production that competes in the category Educational entertainment for the family is the third episode of the series, produced in 2019. The festival began on15 October in Brazil, and runs until 20  December. 37 productions will be shown remotely and free of charge throughout the country, which can be followed through the project’s website.

Health and mental well-being are the themes addressed in this year’s edition of the Science Film Festival, in view of the effects of the health and economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. João Ricardo’s animation addresses the healthy relationship between children and divorced parents, showing, through a journey through time, the evolution of equity in raising children in shared custody. The theme was inspired by the stage of life in which the director was, affected by divorce and the break from daily contact with his young daughter.

The episode is available for free access on Isah’s Dreams YouTube channel.


João has a degree in advertising and took a specialization course in cinema in the distance learning modality during his graduation. It was from his conclusion work for this specialization that the animated series was born. “I was finishing the advertising course, but I didn’t have any in-person basis in audiovisual production. That’s when a friend who studied philosophy at UFSC gave me the idea of taking single courses in Film studies”. Taking single courses at UFSC as a special student was essential for theoretical enrichment and learning, providing the basis for starting the project and improving it.

“The courses gave me different perspectives on the project that was being born, they helped me a lot in the creative process, opening up a range of possibilities of styles and techniques to execute the production”, says the director. In 2015, the pilot episode of the series Sonhos da Isah was completed, dealing with parental alienation and the new joint custody law, enacted the year before publication. The animation was selected for approximately 40 festivals, helping to raise funds and finance the second and third episodes of the series, published respectively in 2017 and 2019.

The production process moves at a slow but determined pace. João aims to complete five episodes with excellent quality to enter streaming services and open TV, seeking greater repercussion of his project. To accomplish that, he intends to continue improving his techniques, showing the desire to return to UFSC as a special student. “I was getting ready to take some courses, maybe script or specific animation production. That would add a lot.”


Translated by SINTER/UFSC

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RESEARCH – LABIME researcher is the author of an article in Nature Protocols

22/11/2021 13:07

The November 2021 issue of the scientific journal Nature Protocols features the article “Label-free cell assays to determine compound uptake or drug action using MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry” by Martina Blank, a researcher who works as a biologist at the Laboratory of Structural Molecular Biology of the Department of Biochemistry (LABIME/CCB/UFSC). The topic of the co-authored article is the result of activities performed during Martina’s post-doctoral internship at the Hochschule Mannheim, in Germany. The research describes a protocol for optimization of mass spectrometry analysis in cellular assays for drug evaluation developed at the Center for Mass Spectrometry and Optical Spectroscopy .  The full paper is available here. More information: martina.blank@ufsc.br.

Translated by SINTER/UFSC

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COP26: UFSC researchers co-author a report that assesses the situation in the Amazon

17/11/2021 19:48

The Scientific Panel for the Amazon (SPA), a group that brings together more than 200 scientists, released this Friday, 12 November, the first Amazon Assessment Report. Presented in Glasgow, Scotland, at a parallel event to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, Cop26, the document warns that the Amazon is approaching a potential and catastrophic point of no return, due to deforestation, degradation, forest fires and climate change, and calls on global governments, public and private sector leaders, policy makers and the general public to act now to prevent further devastation in the region.

According to the SPA, this is the most detailed, comprehensive and holistic material of its kind on the Amazon Basin. In its 34 chapters, it provides a systematic overview of the state of ecosystems and peoples in the Amazon and offers policy makers recommendations for the conservation of this ecosystem and paths for the sustainable development of the region. It also highlights the importance of science, technology, innovation, indigenous peoples and local knowledge to guide decision-making and policy-making.

“What this report does, its role, is like an IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] for the Amazon. So, this is the first time that a review of things happening in the Amazon, about the condition of the Amazon today, has been done like this, in this way, with several researchers”, comments the professor at the Department of Physics at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) Marina Hirota, one of the authors of the document.

The study’s structure is divided into three parts. The first presents the factors that determined the evolution of the Amazon to what we know today, including geological, climatic and human aspects. The second section discusses how human actions are affecting the biome. Issues such as deforestation, fire and climate change, land use and rainfall patterns, as well as their impacts on biodiversity, ecological processes, ecosystem services and human well-being, are addressed. The work ends with an indication of sustainable solutions and paths for the future.

On the brink of collapse

The Amazon Basin encompasses the largest tropical forest in the world and immense natural and cultural wealth and diversity. In addition to playing a decisive role in global water cycles and regulating climate variability, the Amazon is also home to approximately 47 million people, including some 2.2 million indigenous people, distributed in more than 400 groups that speak more than 300 languages.

The region, however, faces unprecedented changes. There are already parts of the Amazon that behave in a new configuration, that act as a carbon source rather than a sinkhole, or that have become a type of impoverished savannah. Amazonian peoples, their cultures and knowledge are also under threat due to multiple pressures and the weakening of the protection of their rights.

Approximately 17% of the original Amazon area has already been deforested and 18% is degraded (meaning that there may even be trees standing in these places, but disturbances such as fire and illegal logging have led to impoverishment of the forest, with loss of biodiversity and reduction of ecological functions, for example). We are very close to what some studies indicate as the limit of 20% to 25% of change in the biome’s vegetation cover – from then on, theoretical models indicate that the forest would no longer be able to recover.

Points of no return (also called tipping points) refer to the limits beyond which the system would collapse and are the focus of the chapter in the report led by Marina. The scientists’ analysis shows that there are points related to different variables – such as the amount of rain, the increase in the length of the dry season, the global temperature, and, of course, the level of deforestation.

The hypotheses about what could happen to the Amazon – and the planet – after crossing one of these points are also varied. Although there is no consensus on exactly what the impacts will be, it is known that they will certainly be felt in many places. Disturbances in such a large forest spread across the world in a domino effect.

“There will be changes in rainfall patterns, in general, in the Southeast and South of Brazil. Whether for more or for less, this still needs to have a consensus, but there will be. Things have a flow, and the flow of moisture that comes from the Atlantic Ocean and passes through the Amazon is an important flow in providing water that can fall anywhere in Brazil and South America, in general. So there will be changes in temperature and rainfall regardless of climate change. Then, we need to see which direction in a more consensual way”, explains Marina.

The forest is connected to other critical elements of the Earth system. Changes in the Amazon Basin could affect the circulation of the Atlantic Ocean and ice melt in Antarctica and the Arctic. “The fact is that temperature and rain can change elsewhere in the world. And these tipping elements [elements of the planet, interconnected with each other, which are subject to abrupt and catastrophic changes after crossing certain thresholds] can, in a cascade effect and on a more global scale, accelerate changes in other places”, reinforces the professor.

It is noteworthy that it is not just a matter of avoiding a complete collapse, even smaller and more localized disturbances can cause enormous damage. “We need to manage the resilience of the Amazon, including considering the people who live in the Amazon. Who lives in the Amazon depends on what the Amazon provides. We have to think about it a lot. It does not matter whether there is going to be a systemic collapse or not within the Amazon, even if they are small collapses, this will have a very large impact on the cultural diversity that exists there. These people are going to lose the house they have today”, reiterates Marina.

Red flags

The SPA recommends, to decision makers, an immediate moratorium on deforestation in areas that are already approaching points of no return and that deforestation and degradation be zeroed in the entire Amazon region by 2030. On the subject, Mercedes Bustamante, professor at the Universidade de Brasília (UnB) and member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the SPA, is emphatic: “With the recent outbreaks of deforestation that are devastating the most extensive tropical forest on the planet, we must also announce a red alert  for Amazon. Saving forests from ongoing deforestation and degradation and restoring ecosystems is one of the most urgent tasks of our time to preserve the Amazon and its populations and address the global risk and impacts of climate change. The mosaic of Amazonian ecosystems extends from the high Andes to the Amazonian lowlands and is home to the most extraordinary biodiversity on Earth, with more than 10% of the plant and animal species in the world”.

“The great biodiversity of the Amazon will not continue, not only of plants, but of animals, and also the diversity of humans, cultures, languages, native peoples, with the intense anthropogenic pressure that we are experiencing, especially in relation to deforestation”, emphasizes Marina Hirota. “We need to achieve zero deforestation as quickly as possible. What [the report] says is ten years at most, but I think less than that. I would say zero deforestation as quickly as possible, with public policies, but also with inspection in loco, because there are many illegal activities in the Amazon, and the report talks a lot about that too”, he adds.

The teacher also draws attention to the need to value traditional peoples, such as indigenous peoples and riverside communities, who are at the forefront of the political and social struggle that exists today in Brazil. “Keeping native peoples where they are helps us keep the forest standing. It sounds a little romantic, but they are true guardians of the forest.”

Solutions and ways forward

Despite the alarming findings, the report highlights the significant potential of advancing paths to sustainable development based on a combination of scientific research and knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and leveraging strong partnerships. It takes the combined and collaborative efforts of Amazonian policy makers at the central and local levels, the financial and private sectors, civil society and the international community.

The SPA highlights that the size and challenges of the Amazon Basin require large-scale international financial development and public and private partnerships to promote and sustain restoration, conservation, forest management, development of sustainable value chains and payment for schemes ecosystem services, as well as investment in education, science, technology and innovation. Financial support must be mobilized from advanced economies, ensuring that their consumption is linked to areas with zero deforestation and preserving the role of forests as an important natural carbon sinkhole.

Among the most urgent actions, in Marina’s view, are the demarcation of indigenous lands and the inspection of mining, deforestation and invasion of protected areas. Managing the resilience of the Amazon involves public policies at different levels of governance and open conversations between different sectors of society. It must be made clear that there is no need to cut down more forests for agricultural expansion, for example. This can be done in areas that are already deforested and degraded and through investment in new technologies.

The Panel advocates the vision of a living Amazon that promotes conservation and restoration initiatives, a transformation to an innovative bioeconomy of healthy standing forests and flowing rivers that respects and recognizes natural cycles and human rights. “If we keep the forest standing, it can make a lot more profit than if it’s fallen”, emphasizes Marina.

The change, she says, also involves the awareness of the population. “It’s a huge ecosystem, which has several sub-ecosystems. It’s hard to understand if you’ve never been there, the connectivity that exists in the Amazon is very different. Even if people don’t know this and are used to other perspectives of life in space and time, I think it’s very important for us to have empathy. Because what’s happening over there it is going to happen to everyone at some point. It is happening there because there is still forest there, but also in other places that have forest or any natural ecosystem, the pressure is very high. Just look away and see what ecosystem around you is changing and what impact it has on your life. In the Amazon, this is happening to local people and it will reach us at some level.”

Marina illustrates the issue with some recent examples of environmental problems in Santa Catarina, such as increasing deforestation and leakage caused by the rupture of a sewage structure in Lagoa da Conceição. “All these things that we can see here, imagine that multiplied by thousands, so that we can have an idea of the size of the Amazon. That doesn’t mean it’s more or less important, it means that it impacts our lives on one level or another. And what happens here in Santa Catarina also reverberates and spreads to other places in Brazil, even if at a lower level, due to the size of the state compared to the Amazon, which encompasses several states. We have to create this sense of belonging that we are in one country. A part of the Amazon is in Brazil. We are together in this.”

Scientific Panel for the Amazon

Inspired by the Pact of Letícia for the Amazon, the SPA aims to be a scientific authority on various topics related to the Amazon Basin. The Panel is organized by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and involves more than 200 scientists – of which two thirds are from Amazonian countries – including indigenous leaders.

In addition to Marina, three other UFSC researchers participated in the elaboration of the report: postdoctoral fellows from the Postgraduate Program in Ecology ,Bernardo Monteiro Flores and Carolina Levis, and professor at the Department of Phytotechnics Ana Catarina Conte Jakovac.

For more information, visit the SPA website, the report and its executive summary.Summary versions of all chapters are accessible in English. They are also being, little by little, being translated into Portuguese, and some are already available on the website aamazoniaquequeremos.org/capitulos-em-sintese.


Camila Raposo/Journalist at Agecom/UFSC, with information from the Scientific Panel for the Amazon (SPA)


Translated by SINTER/UFSC

Read the original article here.

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