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Mon Apr 27, 2020, 08:27 AM

Amazon Rainy Season Among Top 10 Lowest On Record; Forests Unusually Dry As Fire Season Approaches

Huge swaths of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are drier than usual after a rainy season with rainfall index well below historical levels, raising concerns about a further spike in wildfires and deforestation as the dry season approaches.

Data from NASA and the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) points to stressed climate conditions: the soil is drier, temperatures are higher, and groundwater is depleted. Peak rainy season, which runs from December to February, was among the top 10 worst on record this year, with just 75% of the season’s usual rainfall.

Data from NASA’s GRACE satellites show the Brazilian Eastern Amazon and Cerrado have much less water stored underground than usual. Groundwater data is used to help predict droughts globally. Image courtesy by NASA and the United States National Drought Mitigation Center


The gradual drying of the Amazon has concerned scientists for decades, as it threatens to set off a cycle of forest dieback that may push the rainforest over its tipping point, turning rainforest into degraded savanna. In recent years, extreme weather events like droughts and floods have increased and published data show dry seasons getting longer and more severe.

But figures on the Amazon rainy season are new. According to rainfall data shared with Mongabay by CPTEC, eight of the 10 driest rainy seasons in Brazil’s northern region recorded since 1962 happened after the year 2000. “We have observed a negative trend, a significant sign of reduction in rain through the years,” CPTEC scientist Jatobá told Mongabay.



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