For the first time, maps made with information from the past 30 years show that parts of Brazil now have a arid climate, like deserts. This happened because the Earth got hotter due to climate change, combined with damage caused by humans.
A note from scientists at Cemaden (National Center for Monitoring and Alerts of Natural Disasters) and Inpe (National Institute for Space Research), which are government groups, warns that dryness is reaching new levels. This is making more areas at risk of turning into deserts.
The document was given to MMA (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change) and other groups that will help make a plan to deal with the problem.
The above map, made by the Satellite Image Analysis and Processing Laboratory, from the Federal University of Alagoas(Lapis, Ufal), displays in dark red arid areas.
Humberto Barbosa, a researcher from the Lapis (Satellite Image Processing Laboratory) at Ufal (Federal University of Alagoas), has published a study recently that talks about the issue.
“We now have, within the concept of drylands of the UNCCD, the three typologies: sub-humid dry, semi-arid, and the novelty, arid. This creates a new order for the Brazilian semi-arid region.”– Humberto Barbosa
Using data from satellites over the past 18 years, he noticed fewer clouds in the sky in that region. The map also shows that the northern part of Bahia(State in the Northeast of Brazil) is most affected by dryness, with some desertification happening in Minas, Pernambuco, and Paraíba.
“Reduction of clouds in meteorological terms means that the rainfall capacity of a location is decreasing”– Humberto Barbosa
Humberto, who wrote a book called “Um século de Secas” (A Century of Droughts) with Catarina Buriti, explains that the Northeast faced eight long periods of no rain since 1845. However, none lasted six years, like the dry period from 2012 to 2017. “This was the first time we had this long of a dry period; before, it was only two or three years.”
This information worries the MMA, which created a new department this year to fight desertification. Alexandre Pires, who leads it, says they will use data from Inpe and Cemaden to update the map of areas at risk of turning into deserts.
The current map is from 2015, and the new one will show which areas and towns have a dry climate.
“The MMA is coordinating with the state governments towards the resumption of the policy, renegotiating actions that meet the need for the implementation of concrete practices and technologies to combat desertification.”– Alexandre Pires
He explains that other government departments need to join in to support farmers in the region.
There is also a dialogue with the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation for the launch of a research grant on desertification, focusing mainly on groups of women farmers.
On the last Tuesday and Wednesday(7th and 8th), scientists and authorities gathered at a seminar in João Pessoa. The debate on the topic was promoted by the TCE (State Court of Auditors), which is coordinating a network with four other courts (Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará, and Sergipe) to assist managers with information and demand plans for mitigating the impacts of desertification.
“Either we take care of this immediately, or desertification will force the removal of populations from the semi-arid region.”– Nominando Diniz, president of TCE-PB
“The rains have decreased and are very spaced out, temperatures are high, not to mention anthropogenic pressure. We see that this is fueling vulnerability and it scares us. Governments need to be alerted and take mitigation measures.”– Margareth Sílvia Benício, agronomic engineer and manager of Studies and Research in the Environment at Funceme (Ceará Foundation for Meteorology and Water Resources)