Manaus, the Amazonian capital associated with idyllic images of blue skies and a place where visitors enjoy admiring dolphins in their natural habitat, has temporarily lost its luster and character. The Amazon drought, which is affecting the region on many levels, is to blame, and satisfying tourists’ expectations has fallen from the forefront of tasks to be accomplished. The region’s historically dry spell includes the lowest water level in more than 120 years in the said city. What exactly does this mean for the place, what are the consequences, and how long might the drought last?
Drought in the Amazon – reports are not optimistic
The drought in the Amazon has been a topic that has been on the news portals for some time now, and the latest updates from the region are an alarming confirmation of the massive scale of the phenomenon. The Amazonian capital, which is also the largest city in the area, has seen its lowest water levels in more than 120 years in recent days. This means that the level of the Rio Negro River has not been this low for a very long time. On October 16, a result of 13.59 meters was recorded in the port of Manaus. By way of comparison, it is worth adding that during the June 2021 floods. a historically high value of 30.02 meters was recorded.
This is not the only infamous record in the region. For some areas of the Amazon, rainfall from June to September was at its lowest level since 1980.
Consequences of drought in the Amazon
The consequences of the drought are visible to the naked eye. We have already reported on the extinction of endemic dolphins in Lake Tefé in a previous article. The causes are attributed to water shortages. Such a condition also affects people. Low water levels in the Amazon River, a major transportation route, have caused supply problems. The transportation of goods, including drinking water, has been disrupted in Manaus, which has a population of 2 million. Many carriers are having to replace boats with ones that have a lower draft. Some settlements along the Taruma-Açu are impossible to reach at all.
The Amazon drought is affecting more than just local residents. Historically low water levels in the Madeira River, a tributary of the Amazon River, have halted operations at the Santo Antonio hydroelectric plant. It is the fourth largest facility of its kind in Brazil. The hydroelectric plant, located near Porto Velho, is equipped with 50 turbines generating a total of more than 3.5 GW of power. In 2014. The facility was taken out of service due to flooding. This time the problems are quite different.
Amazon residents feel severe effects of drought
Amazonas civil defense agency reports that so far nearly 500,000 people have been affected by the drought. residents of the region. Some areas recorded the lowest rainfall in more than 40 years. A resident of Santa Helena do Ingles, located west of Manaus, told Reuters that the area has not seen rain in three months, and the temperature is higher than during previous droughts.
In villages such as Santa Helena do Ingles, river transportation is crucial to operations. Most Amazonians live on the banks of rivers, lakes and streams. The drought prevents access to villages, food supplies, medicine and drinking water. Supplies get there via tractors and even on the backs of volunteers.
Amazon drought – will permanent changes in agriculture be necessary?
The secretary of civil defense for the state of Amazonas says it may be necessary to relocate communities from areas made unproductive by the drought. The next step toward change may be the need to adapt selected crops to the new reality. A reality characterized by lower humidity and more annoying droughts. The crops affected by the weather conditions are mainly cassava and other vegetables.
Drought in the Amazon – how long can it last?
The weather forecasts also don’t give a positive mood. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Science, the El Niño weather and oceanic phenomenon is responsible for the drought this year, which also affects the occurrence of various other anomalies around the world. The ministry, in a statement issued, predicts that the drought will not end too soon and will last at least until December. This is also when the El Niño phenomenon will culminate.