Search site

School of Geography

EGC Projects

Assessing the impacts of the recent Amazonian drought

PI: Oliver Phillips (University of Leeds)

Co-I: Yadvinder Malhi (University of Oxford)

Overview: Over the last few months there has been extreme drought in Amazonia. This may be related to warming of the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, the same feature that helped generate unusually violent hurricanes and contributed to 2005 breaking the record as the most active year for Atlantic tropical cyclones since records began. The Amazon drought may have been a similarly unusual event. In western Amazonia particularly this may have been the most intense drought since weather records began in this region in the mid-20th century. By October, river stage levels along the middle and lower reaches of the Amazon river had reached the lowest marks for 35 to 60 years, which indicates that most of the vast Amazon basin (about 5 million km2) has seen exceptionally dry conditions for many months. The drought led to a state of emergency in parts of Brazil, where boats could no longer be used to supply towns and villages with essential supplies. Reports from Amazonian towns such as Iquitos (Peru), Leticia (Colombia), and Manaus (Brazil) suggest that temperatures approached, and perhaps exceeded, their all-time temperature records. The drought appears to be ending now. This project will attempt to assess the impacts of this unusual event on the Amazon forest / which harbours more carbon and more species than any other ecosystem on earth.

Start Date: 01 February 2006

End Date: 31 July 2006

Funder: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Urgency Grant

Grant Reference: NE/D010306/1

Details: NERC Grants on the Web