Massive Amazon drought may be linked to warm Atlantic waters
With the Amazon rainforest suffering its worst drought in a half-century, Brazil has declared a state of emergency in the hardest-hit area. Some scientists speculate that warmer North Atlantic waters — the same factor driving the intense Atlantic hurricane season — are causing more air to rise, and that the rising air is offset by descending air in the Amazon, which decreases rainfall. Deforestation of about a fifth of the original rainforest has eradicated flora that would both release moisture into the air and hold rainwater in the soil. Water levels on the Amazon River and its tributaries have dropped so low that many communities accessible only by river are cut off from vital supplies. Experts worry that disappearing plant foods may starve species low on the food chain, and reverberate upwards; a die-off of over 100 endangered freshwater manatees has been reported. Folks hope the normal rainy season will start by month’s end.