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Amazon suffers worst drought in decades

Posted by Lindy on October 26, 2010


By Jeremy Hance at mongabay.com on October 24, 2010

http://news.mongabay.com/2010/1024-hance_amazon_drought.html

For a fuller explanation try:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/26/amazon-drought-tributary-rio-negro-climate-change

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.

Rafael Cruz, a Greenpeace activist in Manaus who has been monitoring the drought, said that while the rise and fall of the Amazon’s rivers was a normal process, recent years had seen both extreme droughts and flooding become worryingly frequent.

Although it was too early to directly link the droughts to global warming, Cruz said such events were an alert about what could happen if action was not taken..

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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