Brazil.  Without climate change, the worst drought in more than a century would be completely normal

Climate change was the main cause of the drought that devastated the Amazon Valley in the second half of 2023. According to scientists, in a world without climate change, this phenomenon would have no chance of reaching the scale it actually has. The drought in the Brazilian Amazon last year was the worst in 120 years.

The anomalous El Nino phenomenon continues in the North Pacific Ocean, shaping the weather in different parts of the world. In large areas of northern Brazil, this leads to reduced rainfall and thus drought. According to a study by scientists from World Weather Attribution, whose mission is to quickly analyze extreme weather events, Pacific anomalies were not the main cause of the devastating drought that has afflicted the Amazon Valley since last year.

Climate heating

In a recently published report, scientists said that the most important factor shaping extreme drought is climate change. El Niño and climate change have contributed to decreased rainfall, but rising global temperatures have had the greatest impact on drought.

Scientists from Brazil, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted a series of computer simulations to examine how weather events would develop in an imaginary world in which global warming does not exist. Modeling has shown that what is currently considered an extremely rare severe drought (grade 4, the highest on the US USDM scale) will only be a lesser degree 2 drought.

– What currently happens once every 50 years would be much less likely if the world were 1.2 degrees cooler. If we continue to warm the climate, the combination of reduced precipitation and rising temperatures will become more common, Frederick Otto of Imperial College London, co-author of the study, said in a press conference.

The worst in more than a century

Last fall, the Amazon Basin experienced its worst drought in 120 years. In Brazil's Lake Teifi, water temperatures reached 39.1 degrees Celsius, believed to have caused the death of more than 150 dolphins from two endangered local species. Low water levels in rivers have hampered fishing and transportation, and residents of Manaus, the largest city in the Amazon region, have suffered from air pollution due to forest fires.

Scientists explained that the effects of drought were exacerbated by historical land management practices in the Amazon region. Deforestation, fires, biomass burning, intensive agriculture, and other social and climate problems have caused the land to lose some of its ability to retain water and moisture.

Not everyone completely agrees with these conclusions, including Luiz Candido of the National Amazon Research Institute in Brazil, who was not involved in the study. He pointed out that although the scientific world agrees on the impact of climate change on conditions in the Amazon region, the interactions of the oceans, atmosphere and forests are so complex that it is difficult to separate the impact of natural fluctuations from human fluctuations.

PAP, global weather attribution

Main image source: Reuters

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