Tropical forests represent the world's most biodiverse ecosystems and play a key role in carbon storage and exchange. Many of the human-induced pressures these regions are facing, such as fragmentation and deforestation, have been widely reported and well documented. However, there have been surprisingly few efforts to synthesize cutting-edge science in the area of tropical forest interaction with atmospheric change. At a time when our global atmosphere is undergoing a period of rapid change, both in terms of climate and in the cycling of essential elements such as carbon and nitrogen, a thorough and up-to-date analysis is now timely. This research level text explores the vigorous contemporary debate as to how rapidly tropical forests may be affected by atmospheric change, and what this may mean for their future.