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Drought Affects Brazilian Amazon

3.2S 60.1W

October 30th, 2010 Category: Climate Change, Rivers, Vegetation Index

Brazil - September 14th, 2010

The full version of this FAPAR image stretches from northeastern Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana (left to right along the coast), across the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest, to the southern border of Brazil.

The areas showing the highest vegetation index (rusty red) are found in northeastern Venezuela. The other countries along the coast show a mostly good index (green). At the bottom of the full image, multiple large deforested areas in Brazil show a low index (yellow).

Interestingly, the Amazon Rainforest itself generally shows only a good index. This may be because it is being afflicted by an unusual severe drought. Some rivers are at their lowest level in decades, including the Amazon River at Manáus (visible near the center of the full image), which has fallen to its lowest level since 1963.

Scientists say the region is facing its worst drought since that year. The Peruvian Amazon, 2,000km (1,240 miles) upstream has also been affected. In Amazonas state 27 municipalities have declared a state of emergency because of the dry spell. Several tributaries of the Amazon have almost completely dried up, paralysing river transport and the fishing industry.

The Brazilian government has announced $13.5m (£8.6m) in emergency aid for Amazon regions hit by the worst drought in decades. The money will fund water pumping and purification, as well as food deliveries to towns cut off by the drop in river levels.

Environmental groups say severe droughts are likely to become more frequent in the Amazon as a result of global warming, putting further strain on the rainforest.

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