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Drought brings Amazon tributary to lowest level in a century

October 29, 2010

From The Guardian

One of the most important tributaries of the Amazon river has fallen to its lowest level in over a century, following a fierce drought that has isolated tens of thousands of rainforest inhabitants and raised concerns about the possible impact of climate change on the region.

The drought currently affecting swaths of north and west Amazonia has been described as the one of the worst in the last 40 years, with the Rio Negro or Black river, which flows into the world-famous Rio Amazonas, reportedly hitting its lowest levels since records began in 1902 on Sunday.

In 24 hours the level of the Rio Negro near Manaus in Brazil dropped 6cm to 13.63 metres, a historic low.

The Solimoes and Amazonas rivers have also seen their waters plunge since early August, stranding village dwellers who rely on the Amazon’s waterways for transport and food and marooning wooden boats on brown sand banks.

According to local authorities nearly half of Amazonas state’s 62 municipalities have declared states of emergency, among them Manaquiri, one of the worst hit areas during the last major drought in the region in 2005. That year thousands of families were forced to abandon their homes and schools closed for lack of students.

Authorities say around 62,000 families have been affected by this year’s receding rivers and on Friday the federal government announced $13.5m (£8.5m) in aid for the region

From The Guardian

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