Brazilian region could become desert; know which

Farmer Ana Lucia da Silva, who has lived in the rural area of ​​Juazeiro (BA) for almost 25 years, reports that the region's climate and landscape have changed over time. She can no longer plant cassava and castor beans, just like her parents and grandparents did. The rains decreased and became rarer, making the climate increasingly hotter. Ana Lucia and other residents work in the fields, suffering from the intense heat, in an area that has the potential to become a desert in the future.

Researchers from the National Center for Natural Disaster Monitoring and Alerts (Cemaden) identified five municipalities in northeastern Bahia that form the first arid climate region observed in Brazil: Rodelas (BA), Juazeiro (BA), Abaré (BA), Chorrochó ( BA) and Macururé (BA). This region occupies an area of ​​5,700 km².

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In November last year, Cemaden released a technical note that revealed this discovery. According to the Climate, the research analyzed the country's climate data over 60 years and compared changes in climate conditions in 30-year time blocks. Based on the analysis of changes in solar radiation, precipitation, winds and evaporation, the researchers concluded that the climate in this region had changed.

Climate change transforms Brazilian region into desert

  • This change from a semi-arid to arid climate pattern has a significant impact, as there is a reduction in the rainfall rate – from 800 mm per year, on average, to 500 mm per year;
  • This reduction in rainfall is insufficient to compensate for water loss through evapotranspiration, a combination of evaporation of water in the soil and transpiration from plants and bodies of water;
  • Cemaden researcher, Ana Paula Cunha, states that the result of the research was unexpected, as the researchers only expected advances from the semi-arid region to other regions beyond the Northeast and parts of Minas Gerais;
  • She highlights that this region has seen a sharp increase in temperature since the 1960s, and this increase has been even more accelerated in recent years;
  • Cemaden's research also demonstrated the relationship between global warming and changes in climate patterns in Brazil;
  • Rising temperatures accelerate evaporation, leading to water deficits and more intense droughts;
  • Data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that the temperature at the Earth's surface increased by 1.1 °C between 2011 and 2020 compared to the period from 1850 to 1900;
  • In Brazil, this increase was even more intense, reaching 1.5 °C on average and up to 3 °C in some regions.

The reduction in water supply due to aridization already affects agricultural production, livestock farming and energy generation in the country. Currently, 49.8% of the water available in Brazil is used for irrigation activities. Furthermore, 24.3% are used for human consumption, 9.7% by industry and 8.4% in agriculture.

Desertification is another problem faced in the region. Despite not being classified as a desert, around 85% of the Brazilian semi-arid region suffers from the desertification process, which leads to loss of soil fertility, loss of biodiversity and rural exodus.

Farmer Ana Lucia is looking for solutions to face high temperatures and lack of rain, such as growing plant species resistant to the arid climate, such as vegetables and species from the Caatinga. Researcher Javier Tomasella emphasizes that solutions for climate adaptation already exist and it is necessary to adopt them as soon as possible.

Faced with these challenges, the Ministry of the Environment commissioned the Cemaden study and plans to launch a new plan to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought later this year.

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