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Archive for January 24th, 2015

Mega Drought Plagues Brazil’s Most Populous Region

Posted by feww on January 24, 2015

SCENARIOS 900, [500,] 444, 219, 117, 111, 100, 090, 067, 03, 02

Rio de Janeiro state experiencing “the worst water crisis in its history” —Environment Minister

The states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais facing “worrying” water crisis and must save water, according to Brazil’s Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira speaking in an emergency meeting in the capital, Brasilia.

“Since records for Brazil’s south-eastern region began 84 years ago we have never seen such a delicate and worrying situation,” she said.

In Rio de Janeiro state, the main water reservoir is empty for the first time since it was built, said the country’s Environment Secretary, acknowledging that the state faces “the worst water crisis in its history,” said a report.

Rising temperatures and diminishing rainfall have forced authorities to impose rationing in the worst affected areas, amid rolling power cuts, which are affecting up to five million people.

Minas Gerais saw a total of just 900mm of rain in 2014, less half the yearly average, severely affecting coffee beans production.

Rainfall Totals & Anomaly Patterns:Last 30 Days

percp anom brazil dec2014-jan2015
During the last 30 days, below-average precipitation was observed over most of the Amazon Basin, and all of central and southeastern Brazil. Above-average precipitation was observed over southern Colombia, northern Peru, northeastern Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. Source: cpc/ncep/noaa

About 100 cities have imposed rationing, as water levels in 17 of the country’s 18 largest reservoirs fall below levels experienced during the last water crisis in 2001, said reports.

Water levels at the Cantareira system, a huge reservoir that provides water to about 22 million people in Sao Paulo and surrounding areas, have fallen to about 5 percent of the capacity, severely affecting hydroelectric generation, which provides up to 72 percent of the county’s electricity.

Rolling blackouts are hitting about a dozen cities amid high demand for refrigeration and air conditioning, as the daily temperatures soar above 35°C.

The national grid operator ONS cut power to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and several other major Brazilian cities last week, paralyzing the subway systems, said a report.

“Scientists have linked the shortage in rainfall to deforestation in the Amazon, which has led to higher temperatures and lower precipitation across much of Brazil. Ironically, much of the deforestation is driven by the agricultural sector, which is now also suffering under the extensive drought.”

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