The Big Picture
The forecast for South America continues to indicate widespread and in many areas exceptional water deficits across the north, particularly in the Amazon Basin, as seen in the 12-month map below. Water surpluses will persist in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; Uruguay; and central Argentina.
The agricultural impacts of drought have been widely felt in Brazil: April coffee exports were down 22 percent from March; papaya shortages are expected to last through July; and winter corn production was down 10.5 percent from 2015 figures, prompting speculation that Brazil bought its first major cargo of US corn in two decades. Along with prolonged drought Brazil is facing a number of other serious challenges. With the recent suspension and upcoming trial of President Dilma Rousseff, acting president Michel Temer must attempt to unite a country dealing with a contracting economy, the Petrobras corruption scandal, the Zika epidemic, and lack of preparedness for the Summer Olympic Games.
In Venezuela, looting is on the rise as the nation deals with high inflation, a shrinking economy, and frequent power and water cuts as drought curtails water supply and hydroelectric production.
Along with increasing its energy imports and other measures, the government of Colombia averted drought-related rationing by launching an energy-saving campaign which temporarily reduces costs if citizens conserve energy, and requires that government buildings reduce consumption by 10 percent.
The 3-month maps (below) for the same 12-month period illustrate conditions in more detail. Water surpluses are forecast May through July in Venezuela’s Orinoco and Caroni River Basins and in much of Guyana. Elsewhere in the northern half of the continent deficits will persist in much of Brazil, western Colombia, and Bolivia, and will continue to emerge in Ecuador and Peru. Deficits will also continue to emerge in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile and will persist in the Gulf of Corcovado in the south and in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Surpluses will persist in Uruguay and in pockets of the Argentine Andes and northeastern Argentine.
From August through October deficits will spread in Ecuador, Colombia, Suriname, and French Guiana. Eastern Venezuela and Guyana will transition away from surpluses and into emerging deficits. Deficits will persist in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and much of Brazil, though deficits in Chile are expected to be less severe in the Gulf of Corcovado. Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil and Uruguay will transition from water surpluses to nearly normal conditions. Surpluses in Argentina will diminish.
(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)
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