Brazil - Climate - Amazonas
Aldair Souza shields herself from the sun with an umbrella on a huge sand bank in the Rio Solimoes in this image I took in 2007.
The sand banks appear during droughts, which has become more common the last decade. According to PNAS.org (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA), rainfall in large areas of the Amazonia has dropped by 25 percent. How large? About 12 times the size of California. Amazonia, called the lunges of the planet, are vital because the rainforest suck up enormous amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. With continued human emissions of greenhouse gases, droughts in the Amazonas will be more common, and the rainforest will stop being a CO2 sequester and become a CO2 emitter. Did I mention the size? An estimated 120,000,000,000 tons of carbon are stored in the Amazonas.
Drought periods are common during El Niño years. According to nine different recent climate models, we are in for an extreme version of El Niño this winter. If the predictions come true, it will be bad news for the Amazonas and for us.