Amazon suffers worst drought in decades

Jeremy Hance
October 24, 2010

The worst drought since 1963 has created a regional disaster in the Brazilian Amazon. Severely low water levels have isolated communities dependent on river transport. Given a worsening situation, Brazil announced on Friday an emergency package of $13.5 million for water purification, tents, and food airdrops.

The drought has also hit local fishermen who are unable to transport wares down the rivers. In some places the rivers are so desiccated, all the water is evaporated and the riverbed is cracking up. Ships have been stranded and accidents have been blamed on the low river levels.

Greenpeace activists say such droughts are likely to occur more frequently in the future due to climate change.

"There is already a climate change going on at some level. Greenpeace is tracking the impacts this can have on the Amazon, the impacts that the global warming—some two degrees—may bring to the Amazon […] This year was out of the line," Rafael Cruz, a Greenpeace Amazon forest activist, told Aljazeera.net.

Scientists have warned that climate change combined with widespread deforestation could push the Amazon rainforest ecosystem past a tipping point, whereby it would change from rainforest to savannah.

A particularly severe hurricane season is also likely to have contributed to the drought: hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean draw moisture out of the Amazon when they form.

The rainy season begins in November.

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Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (October 24, 2010).

Amazon suffers worst drought in decades.