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Third drought hits Amazon

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 November 2010

What could be the worst drought on record has hit the Amazon region, and is the third extreme drought in the last 12 years.

The Rio Negro reached an all time low in October 2010

Recent research findings suggest rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will rapidly increase the frequency and severity of droughts in the region, with ominous implications for nearly 8.7 million people, including the biodiversity and climate.

In 2005 the Amazon experienced an extreme drought that prompted the government of Brazil to declare a state of emergency in most of the region. This drought was notable for its impacts on the global carbon cycle.

According to the University College London (UCL) Global Drought Monitor, exceptional droughts should not occur more than a couple of times in a century, yet large areas of the Amazon experienced exceptional drought in October this year.

Most of the Amazon region received less than 75% of normal rainfall between 1 July and 30 September, with many large areas receiving less than 25% of normal.

Among the consequences of the drought are extremely low flows on many of the region’s rivers. On 24 October 2010, the Rio Negro, a major tributary of the Amazon, reached an all time low of 13.63m at Manaus.

Just like the 2005 drought, the 2010 drought was preceded by an El Niño.

The possibility of increasingly arid conditions along with more frequent extreme droughts in the Amazon is a matter of growing and grave concern.

Source: WWF

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