Wind and moisture video file - 510K

Shrinking rivers

Shrinking rivers

Some people are driving on the bone dry Amazon

Some people are driving on the bone dry Amazon

Normal flow of trade winds

Normal flow of trade winds

U.S. Floods connected to Amazon drought

U.S. Floods connected to Amazon drought


Parts of the Amazon river system are at the lowest levels recorded since records began being kept. The Brazilian army has been mobilized to deliver drinking water to communities along the dried up river beds, as drinking water supplies have completely disappeared.

There are suggestions that deforestation is partly to blame for the drought, given that the loss of evapotranspiration (water exhaled into the atmosphere by plants) disrupts the hydrological cycle. Areas of India and Africa which have been deforested have then been subject to droughts and creeping desertification, since plants are the second most important influence over regional climate, second only to the effects on climate of the oceans. About one fifth of the Amazon rain forest has been clear cut and has disappeared. However climatologists suggest that the cause of the drought and the low river levels also involve other factors, such as the melting of the glaciers in the Andes, and unusually high ocean temperatures in both the Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans that seem to be preventing rain clouds from forming over the Amazon. According to some scientists the warmer waters of the Atlantic, which have been fueling powerful storms and a very active hurricane season this year, causes warm air to rise, which then causes the air over the Amazon to subside and fall, a situtaion which then prevents rain clouds from forming.

Aquatic life in the affected rivers has been wiped out, after the water either completely disappeared, or all that remains are muddy stagnant pools. In the city of Manaus citizens have taken to driving their cars on the now dry river bed. In some areas Cargo ships and boats are unable to navigate those stretches of river that still contain water without scraping bottom. Millions of acres of forests have burned down in unchecked forest fires as rains fail to arrive to quench the flames. In some areas even well water has dried up. Water born diseases are spreading as people are forced to drink from stagnant dirty pools of water.

The world's climate is a closed system, and this means that the water that has gone mising from the Amazon and the rain forests has to go somewhere. It would appear that some of it went to New Orleans and the Gulf states, and some it went to the East Coast of the United States. Some of it went out into the middle of the North Atlantic, and remarkably, some of it crossed the Atlantic ocean and then fell upon the Sahara desert.

In a previous story I posted concerning Hurricane vince, a rare North Atlantic Hurricane, I included some discussion of how the trade winds normally head from East to West, but during the time I was monitoring Hurricane Vince, I noticed that the trade winds had been interupted and were instead stalled in one place, and even heading north over the Sahara. At the time I was unaware that there was a drought raging in the Amazon, for normally the trade winds cross the Atlantic and head towards South America. You can see this unusual pattern in the Real Media file located on the page discussing Hurricane Vince.
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/10/326479.shtml

Just out of curiosity I made another video, which covers the period from the 21st of September to the 15th of October, 2005. The video is somewhat 'jerky' at the beginning due to some missing satellite images. There are several areas to pay attention on the video. First, you will notice that the pattern of the trade winds, when they are not stalled, is to move westward and northward and then pass over the top of South America, which means that they are missing the Amazon altogether. You can also see how moisture is being sucked up out of South America and then either into the North Atlantic or at times, it even leaves the Amazon, crosses the Atlantic ocean and then moves onto the Sahara desert (when you see this pattern you will understand what I meant when I suggested that some of that missing rain went to the Sahara). You will also notice that sometimes the Trade winds stall, and then once again, instead of crossing the Atlantic and heading to South America, the moisture heads northward onto the Sahara. You will notice a few big storms moving over the Sahara desert, and you will also notice how in one way or another, these storms seem to be connected with an interuption of rain in South America, or even involve what looks like a robbery of rain from South America.

On the video, towards the end, after about the 20 second mark, you will notice a large circular low pressure front in the North Atlantic off the East Coast of the United States which is pulling moisture up from South America. This is the system which has been causing flooding along the Eastern coast of the U.S., and so you can see that there is a relationship between the Amazon drought, and the East Coast flooding, and you can understand what I mean when I suggested that some of that missing Amazon rain forest rain can be located in both the North Atlantic, and along the East Coast of the United States. It is a small world.

The satellite image below shows how the flooding in the Eastern United States is connected by a kind of 'low pressure system conveyer belt' to South America. you can also see how dry it is on the amazon. That rain had to go somewhere.

Some links to pages discussing this story
 http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N11453267.htm
 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-1821986,00.html
 http://www.rain-tree.com/facts.htm
 http://news.mongabay.com/2005/1011-amazon.html

Other climate stories
Will global warming lead to an ice age?
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/10/326476.shtml

Signs of rapid arctic warming since 2000
Siberian permafrost is melting, leading to the potential release of up to 70 billion tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The last time this happened, during the Thermal Maximum, much of the United States was plunged under water (see the graphics on the linked page), and became part of the ocean
 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/10/326390.shtml

Arctic ice cap at record low
The melting of Siberia has been taking place over the last three or four years, around the same time that the arctic ice cap has been shrinking at an accelerated rate, leading scientists to lower their estimates of an ice free arctic from the year 2100 to the year 2060 given the accelerated rate of melting taking place since 2000. This can be graphically seen on the video linked to on the page below, where the most rapid shrinkage takes place right near the very end of the video.
 http://www.melbourne.indymedia.org/news/2005/09/96358.php