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Drought-Stricken Southeast Brazil Has Lost 15 Trillion Gallons of Water Per Year Since 2012

By By Mark Leberfinger, Staff Writer
November 14, 2015, 4:17:51 AM EST

The ongoing drought in southeast Brazil has cost the region 15 trillion gallons of water a year since 2012, according to a study done by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Dr. Augusto Getirana, a hydrologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, used data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to determine the drought's impact.

Since 2012, eastern Brazil, as a whole, lost an average 28 trillion gallons of water per year, said Getirana, whose research was published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology. Very little relief is expected this summer, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.

Brazil’s extreme drought is seen from space from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites. (Video/NASA).

There have been two main breaks where dry and wet periods begin and end in the drought conditions between 2002 and 2015, Getirana said.

"The first one corresponds to the end of an extended and severe drought that occurred in the early 2000s, causing extreme reservoir depletion and subsequent nationwide electricity crisis and blackouts in 2001," Getirana said. "The second one identifies the beginning of the current drought in 2012."


El Niño will be the main driver of the pattern this summer in South America, much like it has been over the past several months, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

Brazil Weather Center
Chile Weather Center
South America Summer Forecast: El Nino to Bring Flooding Rain to Argentina, Uruguay and Southeast Brazil

Problems will continue with water supplies, impacting hydro-electric power, and causing low crop yields with the cocoa crop in southeast Brazil, Nicholls said.

However, portions of southeast Brazil, which endured flooding over their winter, and rain is returning and persisting from Rio Grande do Sul to São Paulo and Mato Grosso Do Sul, Nicholls added.

"Some rains have reached as far north as Minas Gerais to Mato Grosso," he said. "These areas will dry out some, but should turn wetter later in November. Southeastern Brazil from Rio Grande Do Sul to São Paulo and Mato Grosso Do Sul is expected to be wetter than normal this summer. Little or no drought relief is expected from Bahia to Amazonas on northward."

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