South America: Much wetter than normal conditions forecast for Paraguay

29 January 2018

The 12-month forecast through September 2018 indicates numerous pockets of exceptional water deficit in Brazil north of Rio, surrounded by deficits of lesser severity. Some moderate surpluses are forecast in the state of Paraná in the south, and both deficits and surpluses are forecast in the eastern Amazon Basin.

Intense deficits are also forecast in southern Venezuela, French Guiana, along a path in Bolivia from La Paz south, around the Gulf of Corcovado in Chile, and in Tierra del Fuego.

Surpluses are forecast for all of Paraguay and will be especially intense in the northwest. Surpluses are also forecast along Venezuela’s northeast coast trailing down through coastal Guyana, and in central Peru, central Bolivia, and southern Patagonia. 

Drought in Argentina is causing historic delays in soy and corn planting. As the soy planting window closes in the middle of January, farmers may forego planting soy in the 12.8 million acres of fields that have been too arid to plant. Similarly, only 6 percent of the projected corn planting area had been planted as of early January. Drought has elevated international soy prices and supply concerns, as Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soymeal livestock feed and the third largest of raw soybeans.

At the end of December, nearly half of the cities in northeastern Brazil reported water shortages due to drought. In Rio Grande do Norte the largest reservoir was down to 12 percent capacity and nine out of ten municipalities were at risk of running out of water. In Paraíba 88 percent of the region reported drought; in Bahia 5 million people were affected; and in Pernambuco 64 percent of municipalities were in states of water emergency, with 300,000 people dependent on water trucks.

Drought in Brazil has negatively affected the fourth quarter financial performance of Alcoa, one of the world's largest producers of aluminum. Water shortages have inhibited processing of bauxite ore and curtailed hydroelectric production, another revenue stream for the company.

Cool weather is causing Peruvian grape growth to lag, adding to a 70 percent drop in grape crop volume resulting from flood damage inflicted on the northern growing region last year.

The 3-month maps (below) for the same 12-month period show the evolving conditions in greater detail.

A number of significant transitions are forecast for the next three months in South America. The extent of exceptional deficits is forecast to diminish overall from January through March. However, exceptional deficits will persist in Brazil’s western state of Acre, and will emerge with increasing extent across eastern states. The northern Amazon Basin will transition from intense deficit to surplus with severe surpluses expected along northern tributaries. Moderate to extreme surpluses will emerge in the southern state of Paraná, spreading to surrounding states. Nearby, extreme surpluses are forecast to emerge throughout Paraguay with exceptional surpluses in the northwest.

A complicated patchwork is forecast elsewhere across the continent as well. Surpluses will emerge throughout much of Colombia and will continue to be intense in the central part of the country, though not exceptional as in recent months. In neighboring Venezuela, exceptional deficits will disappear in the south with a transition to both deficit and surplus as surpluses emerge. Deficits in northwestern Venezuela will moderate; surpluses will emerge on the Orinoco, will persist in the northeast and across the border into northern Guyana, and will emerge throughout Suriname, and in coastal French Guiana. Severe deficits are forecast for western Ecuador, and severe surpluses in the east. Moderate surpluses will emerge in northeastern and central Peru, and deficits of varying severity south of Lima. Primarily moderate surpluses will continue to emerge across northern Bolivia, while deficits persist in an arc from LaPaz to the southern border. In Argentina, exceptional deficits in the north will nearly disappear, leaving mild deficits and a few emerging pockets of surplus near Paraguay. Buenos Aires Province will transition from surplus to primarily normal conditions. Moderate deficits are forecast to emerge in Uruguay and in Chile, where more severe deficits will persist near the Gulf of Corcovado in the south, reaching east along the Chubut River into Argentina. Surpluses are forecast surrounding O’Higgins Lake (San Martin Lake) in western Patagonia.

In the following three months – April through June – overall conditions of both surplus and deficit will moderate considerably across most of the continent. Exceptional deficits in eastern Brazil will nearly disappear and surpluses across northern South America will return to somewhat normal conditions. Surpluses will persist throughout Paraguay and will remain intense in the northwestern part of the country.

In the final quarter – July through September – deficits of varying severity will emerge in much of the northern half of the continent and in Chile; surpluses are expected to persist in most of Paraguay.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers. 


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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