Princeton University-led researchers have found that deforestation in the Amazon could affect climate and geological patterns in the United States.
If the Amazon were to go bare this would lead to dry air moving toward the west coast of the U.S.
The complete destruction of the Amazon could mean 20 percent less rain for the U.S. coastal Northwest and a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which is a crucial source of water for cities and farms in California.
"The big point is that Amazon deforestation will not only affect the Amazon -- it will not be contained. It will hit the atmosphere and the atmosphere will carry those responses," said David Medvigy, an assistant professor of geosciences at Princeton.
The Amazon is the largest and most bio-diverse rainforest in the world. The complete deforestation of this area could create a system of dry air around the equator with wetter, cooler air to the south. This pattern would be similar to the El Nino effect which brings heavy rain to southern California while drying out the Pacific Northwest.
The creation of this Amazon weather pattern would interfere with the El Nino weather system and result in the rain moving south to southern Mexico and subject southern California to dry weather.
"We don't know what the world will be like without the Amazon. We know exactly what happens with El Nino -- it's been studied extensively," Medvigy said
The research, published in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, is based on the complete removal of the rainforest, which is an exaggerated level of deforestation, but despite the efforts of conservationists the clearing of the Amazon continues unabated.