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São Paulo Running out of Water as Rain-Making Amazon Vanishes

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page.

South America's biggest and wealthiest city may run out of water by mid-November if it doesn't rain soon.

São Paulo, a Brazilian megacity of 20 million people, is suffering its worst drought in at least 80 years, with key reservoirs that supply the city dried up after an unusually dry year.

One of the causes of the crisis may be more than 2,000 kilometers away, in the growing deforested areas in the Amazon region.

"Humidity that comes from the Amazon in the form of vapor clouds - what we call 'flying rivers' - has dropped dramatically, contributing to this devastating situation we are living today," said Antonio Nobre, a leading climate scientist at INPE, Brazil's National Space Research Institute.

The changes, he said, are "all because of deforestation".

Nobre and a group of fellow scientists and meteorologists believe the lack of rain that has dried up key reservoirs in São Paulo and neighboring states in southeastern Brazil is not just the result of an aberration in weather patterns.

Instead, global warming and the deforestation of the Amazon are altering the climate in the region by drastically reducing the release of billions of liters of water by rainforest trees, they say.

'A COLLAPSE LIKE WE'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE'

The severity of the situation in recent weeks has led government leaders to finally admit Brazil's financial powerhouse is on the brink of a catastrophe.

São Paulo residents should brace for a "collapse like we've never seen before" if the drought continues, warned Vicente Andreu, president of Brazil's Water Regulatory Agency.     
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