Satellite data show Amazon rainforest likely drier, more fire-prone this year

Mongabay discusses how satellite data shows that the Amazon rainforest will likely be drier, more fire-prone this year.

  • Satellite data show regions of the Amazon with severe negative changes in soil moisture and groundwater, meaning this year will likely be drier than 2019.
  • While a severe drought is unlikely, a drier year may increase the spread of wildfires and trigger an earlier spike in deforestation rates, experts say.
  • Although weather forecasts for the Amazon are highly unpredictable, which could potentially reverse the current deficit, climate models by Brazil’s Center for Weather Forecasting and Climate Research (CPTEC) show no indication of above-average precipitation in the coming months.
  • A technical report by the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) published this week anticipates a surge in fires caused by the deforestation spike of 2019, as the modus operandi of land grabbers is to deforest one year then set fire the next, in order to successfully transform forest into farmland and pastures.

Data from NASA and the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE) points to stressed climate conditions: the soil is drier, temperatures are higher, and groundwater is depleted. Peak rainy season, which runs from December to February, was among the top 10 worst on record this year, with just 75% of the season’s usual rainfall.

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