South America: Water deficits forecast to diminish in eastern Brazil

28 February 2018

The 12-month forecast through October 2018 indicates mild to severe water deficits as the dominant condition in South America with significant pockets of exceptional deficit. Exceptional deficits are forecast for southern and northeastern Venezuela, western Ecuador, French Guiana into Amapá (Brazil), pockets scattered in central and western Brazil, and southern Chile around the Gulf of Corcovado.

Severe deficits are forecast scattered from southern Colombia through Peru and central Chile, and in Uruguay, northeastern Argentina, the Bermejo River in northern Argentina, and the Chubut and Chico Rivers in the south.

Intense surpluses are forecast for northern Bolivia, and surrounding O'Higgins/San Martín Lake in Patagonia.

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

The extent of exceptional deficits is forecast to diminish considerably through April. However, pockets of exceptional deficit are forecast in southern Venezuela, Amapá (Brazil) into Suriname and French Guiana, western Brazil and along the Amazon River, western Ecuador, and around the Gulf of Corcovado in southern Chile. Notable deficits are also forecast in southern Colombia, northern Peru, Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), northeastern Argentina, and along the following rivers: the Javari and Purus River in western Brazil, the Pardo in the State of São Paulo, the Bermejo River in northern Argentina, and the Chubut River in the south.

Surplus is forecast in northeastern Venezuela, pockets scattered throughout eastern Brazil, northern Bolivia, eastern Paraguay, and around O'Higgins/San Martín Lake in Patagonia.

From May through July the extent of anomalous conditions, both deficit and surplus, will shrink. Notably, northern Brazil will transition to near-normal conditions, the east will see merely mild anomalies, and some primarily moderate deficits are forecast trailing south through the western states. Exceptional deficits in western Ecuador will downgrade slightly. Moderate deficits will emerge in western Colombia, eastern Ecuador, much of Peru, and much of Chile. Deficits in eastern Argentina will moderate. Surpluses will shrink in Bolivia and will moderate near O'Higgins/San Martín Lake in Patagonia. Exceptional surpluses may re-emerge in southern Argentina between the Desaguadero and Neuquén Rivers. Some moderate surpluses may emerge along the Orinoco River in central Venezuela, in Guyana, and in Brazil’s easternmost tip.

In the final quarter – August through October – deficits will emerge in much of the continent but with greater severity in the north and throughout much of Chile.

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

Chile declared a state of emergence in late January as wildfires - fueled by a prolonged drought and temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) - raged through its central region of Valparaiso, consuming 1,000 hectares of forest in 24 hours, and searing homes and the region's famed vineyards.

Drought in Argentina - the worlds' No. 1 exporter of soy meal - continues to bump up international soybean prices. In mid-February, Buenos Aires Grains reported that 56 percent of the country's soy beans were in poor to very poor condition. Some farmers in Argentina’s Santa Fe province are projecting 30 percent yield losses due to precipitation less than twenty percent of normal so far this year.

Brazil's 2017-18 wheat output is projected to be 36 percent less than last year due to drought and frost, according to the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. The downturn in domestic production could push Brazil into buying Russian wheat this year. 

The Brazilian government's move to privatize energy leader Electrobras, part of a plan to shed assets and raise money, has survived a series of temporary setbacks. The sale could generate up to US$20 million, a nice addition to the cash-strapped federal coffers, but lawmakers in northeast Brazil say conditions of the sale don't serve the long-term interests of the Rio São Francisco. The 1,800-mile (2,900-kilometer) river provides water for drinking, farming, and power generation and is in need of major restoration. Though restoration monies would be stipulated in the sale, the amount is not enough, say the lawmakers.

In late January a landslide triggered by heavy rainfall in southwest Colombia pushed a bus into a ravine, killing 13 people. President Juan Manuel Santos declared a state of emergency in the region, where 1100 police conducted rescue operations in 17 affected neighborhoods.

Days of heavy rain ravaged Bolivia and Argentina in early February. At least six Bolivians were killed and 50,000 left homeless by extensive flooding, especially in the country’s southern region bordering Argentina and Paraguay. Argentine authorities estimate that more than 60,000 people in the northern region have been affected by floods and landslides.

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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