South America: Water deficits forecast for French Guiana, Brazil, & Chile

16 August 2019

The 12-month forecast through April 2020 indicates intense water deficits in Suriname, French Guiana, nearby regions of northern Brazil and in Mato Grosso and Acre, northern Venezuela, the Atacama Desert in Chile, and central Chile surrounding Valparaiso and Santiago.

Moderate deficits are forecast for many regions of Brazil, though conditions are expected to be relatively normal in much of the western Amazon Basin and in southern Brazil. Moderate deficits are also expected in southern Venezuela and scattered along the length of western Peru.

Moderate to extreme surpluses are forecast for central Colombia and central Paraguay, and moderate surpluses in Argentina’s northern provinces of Chaco, Corrientes, Santa Fe, Córdoba, and Entre Ríos, and in Uruguay. More intense surpluses are expected in northwestern Argentina in Catamarca and La Rioja Provinces.

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

The forecast through October indicates that the extent of intense deficits will diminish across the arc of the northernmost nations of the continent, leaving some deficits in northwestern Venezuela and southwestern Colombia. Exceptional deficits are forecast for coastal Ecuador and will persist in French Guiana; extreme deficits are forecast in southern Suriname; and extreme to exceptional deficits in nearby regions of northern Brazil.

Though conditions in northwestern Brazil and in southern Brazil will be relatively normal, deficits of varying intensity are forecast for much of the remainder of the country. Intense deficits are expected along the Purus River in the west, in the southern Amazon Basin, along the Xingu and Tocantins Rivers in the north, and in eastern Pará, Rio Grande do Norte, Mato Grosso, eastern Mato Grosso do Sul, western São Paulo State, and southeastern Minas Gerais.

Moderate deficits are forecast in central Peru, and pockets of more intense deficits will trace the Andes Mountains in the west and into Chile, becoming primarily moderate south of the Atacama Desert.

Surpluses will shrink but persist in central Paraguay and along the border of Peru and Bolivia. Surpluses are also expected in many provinces in northern Argentina. In the northern nations, surpluses will shrink in central Colombia; emerge in western Bolívar, Venezuela; and increase in eastern Venezuela and northern Guyana.

From November 2019 through January 2020, nearly normal water conditions will return to much of the continent. Some pockets of intense deficit are forecast from southern Suriname into Brazil, and in northern Chile. Surpluses will persist in northern Argentina, and moderate surpluses will emerge in Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. A small pocket of surplus will persist in central Paraguay.

In the final quarter – February through April 2020 – normal conditions are forecast for much of Brazil and many other areas of the continent, though deficits will persist in Chile. Areas of surplus include northern Argentina and northern Peru.

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

[updated 26 Aug 2019]
Chile’s Minister of Agriculture announced this month that the government has declared an agricultural emergency in the regions of Valparaíso and Coquimbo due to water shortages in those areas and beyond. As part of the emergency declarations, the Minister announced direct livestock fodder subsidies and financial aid packages for farmers. Thousands of cattle deaths were reported as a result of drought in Coquimbo alone.

More than 25 civil society organizations across several Argentine provinces have united to form a new climate alliance. The alliance filed a request to the Argentine Senate, prompting the Senate to declare in turn its “profound” concern over the current climate emergency, requesting action from the Macri administration.

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.

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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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