Saturday, September 03, 2011

A SCARY AMAZON DAY: Rio Branco, Acre 2011


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The Brazilian Amazon Day holiday occurs on Monday (05 September) but the school children of many neighborhoods in Rio Branco, Acre hold their local parades today in sort of an advance announcement.

In the photo above, it's 8am under a cloudless sky but everything seems dark because of the smoke that has been drifting over Acre from fires to the Southeast in Bolivia.

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The local media report that the 2011 drought in Acre, as measured by water levels in the rivers, is the most severe in 40 years. Curiously, there has been more dry season rain than last year. No one knows why the rivers are so low but scientists are concerned that there may be some kind of cumulative impact of the repeated recent droughts whereby the ground may be compacting and making it difficult for the soil to recharge fully during the rainy season. This would indicate a possible progressive deterioration of soil moisture content and a trend toward generally lower dry season water levels and be very bad news for Southwestern Amazonia which is a transition zone that has shifted from forest to cerrado (savannah) many times in the past.

The good news is that the number of fires in Acre has been seriously reduced by a program of strict enforcement and monitoring. But when cool weather (a friagen) sweeps in from the South, so does the smoke from the less-controlled situation in Bolivia. Here's a vivid satellite photo from today.

Fires in Bolivia and smoke drifting to Acre 03 Sept 2011

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