Amazon Gets Hit with Extreme Drought, Perhaps Worst Ever (Global Weirding?)

Rivers run dry as drought hits Amazon: Droughts are growing more severe. Has the world’s largest rain forest reached its tipping point?” This is the title and subtitle of a Global Post article on a critical issue — drought — facing one of the most precious natural areas of the world, the Amazon.

Here’s more from the article, which, thankfully, draws the easy link between this unprecedented drought in the Amazon and global climate change (or global weirding):

The world’s largest rain forest was dangerously dry, and may well be drying out.

October marked the end of one of the worst Amazon droughts on record — a period of tinder-dry forests, dusty cropland and rivers falling to unprecedented lows. Streams are the highways of the deep jungle and they’re also graveyards for dead trees, usually hidden safely under fathoms of navigable water.

But not this year, and the drought’s significance extends far beyond impeded boats.

While the region has seen dry spells before, locals and experts say droughts have grown more frequent and severe. Scientists say there’s mounting evidence the Amazon’s shifting weather may be caused by global climate change.

The whole article is worth a read, as is an even more extensive discussion of the topic on Climate Progress, which includes  exclusive commentary from forest scientist Simon Lewis. Here’s a little taster:

We know from simple on-the-ground knowledge that the 2010 drought was extreme, leading to record lows on some major rivers in the Amazon region and an upsurge in the number of forest fires. Preliminary analyses suggest that the 2010 drought was more widespread and severe than the 2005 event. The 2005 drought was identified as a 1-in-100 year type event.

Most concerning of all is that while two unusual droughts clearly don’t make a trend, they are consistent with some model projections made well before 2005: that higher sea surface temperatures increase drought frequency and intensity, leading later this century to substantial Amazon forest die-back.

Read the full Global Post piece, more from Lewis, and a lot more commentary from Dr Romm, the WWF, and others on Climate Progress: Another extreme drought hits the Amazon, raising climate change concerns.

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