Climate Change to Blame for Brazil's Weather Woes?

Photo: Hélvio Romero / AE

Sao Paulo is underwater. The most populous city in the Americas was drenched with more rain than it could handle; Yesterday alone, it amounted to nearly half of the total precipitation expected for the entire month of December. The rain not only shut down the bustling city, but was responsible for six deaths and countless displacements. At least 15 more people died in mudslides across the state. Some experts are calling the unprecedented rainfall symptomatic of the climate change phenomenon. By the way, it's still raining.Too Much Rain for Sao Paulo
The rain triggered mudslides in the city's poorest neighborhoods, called favelas, burying four brothers as their home was overtaken. Two more fatatlities were reported in other districts across the sprawling city and countless residents have been evacuated from their homes due to fears of more mudslides throughout.

Photo: Keiny Andrade / AE

Sao Paulo also experienced extensive flooding, causing two of the city's major rivers to swell over their banks--washing out several key highways. Traffic was backed-up for nearly 75 miles as motorists were stranded for hours.

For the last several weeks, heavy rains have been falling across the entire region of south-Brazil, causing damage to an estimated 15,000 homes and forcing dozens of municipalities to declare a state of emergency.

Photo: JB Neto / AE

The "abnormal" weather has some scientists pointing the finger at climate change.

It's Too Dry in the Amazon
While the rain continues to pound Sao Paulo and south-Brazil, the situation couldn't be more different in the northern-Amazon region of the country--which has been experiencing a widespread drought--killing thousands of fish as the Negro River's tributaries have been drying up. The river itself has dropped over 45 feet since earlier this year.

Photo: Greenpeace/Daniel Beltra
Carlos Nobre, of the National Institute of Space Research, calls it an "atypical" drought, with warmer ocean temperatures the likely culprit. He continues:

When it comes to the Rio Negro, in Manaus, this drought has no parallel in the last 103 years. That is, since 1902, when the level of the Rio Negro began to be measured.

Photo: AP Photo/Luiz Vasconcelos,Interfoto

215 thousand people in the region are said to be affected as crops have become decimated and rampant forest fires cloud the air with smoke. People living the more remote regions are thought to be stranded in some areas as the normally flowing waterways have been reduced to stagnating puddles.

Photo: Reuters
Experts warn that deforestation of the Amazon may be contributing to the lack of rainfall, which would be another great reason to stop the practice immediatly.

As Sao Paulo city administrators struggle to regain control over their water-logged city and Amazonians continue to brace for many more months of drought, one can only wonder to what extent this could have been avoided? Any ventured guess would be purely speculative, of course, but with every passing day of too much rain or none at all the drenched and dry are suspecting climate change may be to blame.

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Tags: Amazonia | Brazil | Drought