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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Drought in the Amazon basin
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Drought in the Amazon basin

MEANWHILE... the rest of the world keeps on turning... not everybody is obsessed with plamegate, even tho' i've been doing a pretty good job of it myself...

A state of emergency has been declared in the 62 municipalities in [the Brazilian province of] Amazonas, primarily because of the critical shortage of transportation and drinking water. The authorities estimate that some 197,000 people in 914 communities have been affected by the drought, and they are now studying evacuation plans.

Some researchers attribute the drought to the fact that the intertropical convergence zone (ICTZ), where the warm moist air currents from the north and south come together and normally bring heavy rains, moved farther north, as a result of the significant rise in sea surface temperatures in the northern Atlantic.

This same phenomenon has been deemed responsible for the record-breaking intensity of storms like Hurricane Katrina, which battered the southeastern coast of the United States in September, and Hurricane Wilma, which thrashed Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula last weekend.

The unusually low water levels in the rivers of the Amazon region should serve as a lesson on the vulnerability of this ecosystem to phenomena that reduce rainfall and are likely to become ever more frequent and intense, Moutinho said.

U.S. scientist Thomas Lovejoy, who has been studying the Amazon for four decades, fears deforestation could reach the point where it breaks the balance needed to ensure the very survival of the forests, unleashing a "vicious cycle" of irreversible destruction. [...] "Many of us believe that this could happen if deforestation surpasses 30 percent," Lovejoy told Tierramérica.


The Amazon has already lost 17 percent of its forests, but what is considered "disturbed area," including small logging operations not captured by satellite monitoring, is actually much larger, said Eneas Salati, former director of the state-run National Institute for Amazon Research.

Due to climate change, air masses rise up over the Amazon region, lose moisture and come back down hot and dry, a phenomenon that creates deserts when it is ongoing, Salati told Tierramérica.

"This has never happened before in the 40 years that I've been studying the region," he said, adding that there is no record of it taking place before.

flying over that area, as i have done several times over the past year, the smoke from fires often obscures visibility and extends in plumes for hundreds of kilometers downwind... it's a disturbing sight...

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