Why in News?
- The “lungs of the earth”, the Amazon Rainforest, is currently experiencing a severe and unprecedented drought.
- This crisis is profoundly affecting the Indigenous people’s lives and the entire ecosystem.
More about the news
Factors Causing Drought in the Amazon Rainforest
El Niño Phenomenon:
- It is a major driver of the drought.
- Causes abnormal warming of the Pacific Ocean’s surface waters, impacting rainfall patterns.
- Leads to reduced humidity and rainfall in the Amazon, intensifying drought.
High Water Temperatures in the Northern Tropical Atlantic Ocean:
- Warm ocean waters cause heated air to rise, which then affects the Amazon.
- This warm air hinders cloud formation, resulting in a sharp decrease in rainfall.
Anthropogenic Climate Change:
- Deforestation, from activities like agriculture and logging, weakens the Amazon’s ability to control climate and retain moisture.
- The loss of vast vegetation areas escalates temperatures, generating a cycle of worsening droughts due to reduced evapotranspiration.
- Unregulated mining creates land barriers, affecting river navigation.
- Mining’s ecological impact releases pollutants and greenhouse gases, influencing the climate.
- Particularly on the Madeira River, a major Amazon tributary.
- Reservoir creation alters natural river flows and impacts ecosystems.
- Decomposing organic matter in reservoirs emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
- Infrastructure, like highways, cuts through conserved areas.
- Increases deforestation and climatic anomalies.
Impact on the Water Cycle
- Collective disruptions from the above factors harm the Amazon’s natural water cycle.
- This results in decreased river water volumes, extended droughts, and detrimental effects on aquatic fauna, habitats, and dependent communities.
Drought’s Consequences on the Amazon Rainforest
- Water Levels: Record low levels observed in rivers, including the significant Rio Negro.
- Human Impact: Many are stranded in remote areas, facing scarcity in food, clean water, medicine, and other essentials.
- Health Concerns: Outbreaks of diseases like diarrhoea and skin infections due to contaminated water.
- Biodiversity: The rainforest’s diverse wildlife, including fish and the Amazon River dolphins (boto or pink river dolphin), are dying, leading to polluted water bodies.
- Forest Fires: The drought escalates forest fire risks, destroying vast vegetation, emitting large CO2 volumes, and causing poor air quality in many regions due to smoke.
|About the Amazon Rainforest|
· Occupies the Amazon River’s drainage basin and its tributaries in northern South America, spanning 6,000,000 square km.
· Supports the world’s most extensive rainforest, contributing to over half the global rainforest volume.
· Located in regions of Brazil, Peru, Guyana, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Suriname, French Guiana, and Venezuela, it forms the world’s largest drainage system.
· Bordered by the Guiana Highlands, Andes Mountains, Brazilian Central Plateau, and the Atlantic Ocean.
· These tropical forests lie within 28 degrees of the equator, receiving over 200 cm of rainfall annually, with temperatures ranging between 20°C and 35°C.