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.
(06/21/2010) The Sunday Times over the weekend retracted a column that accused the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of making a “bogus rainforest claim” when it cited a report warning that up to 40 percent of the Amazon could be “drastically” affected by climate change. The “Amazongate” column, authored by Jonathan Leake, Science & Environment Editor of the Sunday Times, was immediately seized upon by climate skeptics as further evidence to discredit the IPCC just two weeks after it was found to be using shoddy glacier data in its 2007 climate assessment. But now the Sunday Times has removed Leake’s column from its web site and issued on apology, admitting that the Amazon claim was indeed supported by scientific research. The Sunday Times also acknowledged misconduct in the way one of the story’s sources—Simon Lewis of the University of Leeds in Britain—was quoted.
(03/19/2010) Recently, Boston University issued a press release on a scientific study regarding the Amazon’s resilience to drought. The press release claimed that the study had debunked the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) theory that climate change could turn approximately 40 percent of the Amazon into savanna due to declining rainfall. The story was picked up both by mass media, environmental news sites (including mongabay.com), and climate deniers’ blogs. However, nineteen of the world’s top Amazonian experts have issued a written response stating that the press release from Boston University was “misleading and inaccurate”.
(04/22/2009) Many rivers around the world are losing water due to global climate change, according to a new study from the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate. Large populations depend on some of the rivers for everything from agriculture to clean drinking resources, including the Yellow River, the Ganges, the Niger, and the Colorado, which have all shown significant declines.