Sunday, July 03, 2016

El Niño's Effects and Climate Change Are Making the Amazon Dry and Flammable

Smoke billows as flames burn in the Amazon rainforest, near the city of Guaranta do Norte, in the Amazon state of Mato Grosso, Brazil (Credit: AP Photo/Dado Galdieri) Click to Enlarge.
The Amazon could be facing fire risks in the coming dry months greater than those experienced in the last 14 years due to the long lasting effects of El Niño, according to the Amazon fire forecast unveiled by NASA and the University of California, Irvine, Wednesday.

Drought in the world’s largest rainforest seems like a contradiction in terms, but what were once considered once-in-a-century events are increasing as global warming takes hold.  Just in the past decade, the Amazon suffered from two record drought years in 2005 and 2010, as well as massive fires thought to have been mostly caused by humans.
So far the region has seen more fires to date than in 2005 and 2010, according to data tracking six states in the Brazilian Amazon, the whole Peruvian Amazon, and three regions in Bolivia.  NASA said this is another indicator of the looming severe fire season.  Many of these areas also show unusually high CO2 emissions, although the Amazon has historically being a carbon sink.

This year's projections come at a sensitive time for the Amazon, as the region has dealt with a series of oil spills, as well as overwhelming mining pollution in Peru, the country with the second largest portion of Amazon rainforest.  The most recent oil spill was reported late last week.  Yet for Brazil, the risk is even more of a worry as it holds some 60 percent of the Amazon and is poised to hold the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in the midst of the fire season.  Smoke from Amazon fires can travel south and east, according to NASA, over urban areas in the southern part of South America's largest country, and reach megacities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Read more at El Niño and Climate Change Are Making the Amazon Dry and Flammable

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