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GDO Analytical Report: Drought in centre-south Brazil – June 2021

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JRC Global Drought Observatory (GDO) of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS)
- 22/06/2021

Executive summary

  • Drought is affecting central-southern Brazil (including the states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul) and parts of Paraguay and Bolivia, an area roughly corresponding geographically to the Paraná basin. With shrinking reservoirs, hydropower production is at risk, with potential cascading effects on the whole economy of these countries. Crop damages have been reported from Brazil and more impacts on the primary sector are expected in the coming months. Ecosystems, including those of Pantanal (the largest tropical wetlands area in the world), are also affected. Brazilian authorities have declared drought emergency for the Paraná Basin until November 2021.

  • A lack of precipitation during most of 2021, combined with the marked deficit accumulated during 2020, has led to the current dry conditions, as reflected both by groundwater levels and soil moisture. Some locations (e.g. eastern São Paulo state) received nearly half of the expected rainfall during this period. Deforestation of the Amazon, global warming, and La Niña, in addition to natural inter-annual variability, are considered to be the main drivers of the increasing incidence of drought that has affected the region in recent years.

  • The six-month precipitation outlook leans towards normal conditions and, despite uncertainty, suggests no meaningful recovery for at least the trimester up to August 2021. Depending on the amount of precipitation in the last quarter of 2021, the next growing season might be affected. Concerning surface water and groundwater supplies, these may well evince below average conditions, due to the long-term deficits accumulated in 2020 and 2021.