More than a hundred million people in Brazil endure extraordinary and lethal temperatures. The heat index, a combination of temperature and humidity, shattered records in Rio de Janeiro with 108.5 degrees and a feel-like temperature of 137.3 F.
The gobsmacking temperatures are a November heat record for the sprawling city of Rio de Janeiro, which has approximately fourteen million people.
Red health alerts have been posted for thousands of cities across the nation. There was no cooling relief for the bodies of wildlife and humans during the night as temperatures hovered around 90 degrees F.
It is spring in the Southern Hemisphere, and all signs point to a brutal summer for South America, Australia, South Asia, and Africa.
Meanwhile, heat records remain set in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Ocean sea surface temperatures are at record highs for the seventh straight month, while Antarctic sea ice is at record lows for the sixth month.
From the BBC:
Inmet has issued red alerts for a large part of the country. These indicate that temperatures may be 5C above average for longer than five days and could pose a serious danger to health.
The heatwave, which comes more than a month before the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere, has seen Brazil's energy consumption soar to record levels as people try to keep themselves cool.
Extreme weather is becoming more frequent and more intense in many places around the world because of climate change.
Meanwhile, the Earth is currently in an El Niño weather phase, during which time global temperatures typically increase.
Due to drought in the Amazon, grain shipments via the Rio Negro and other Amazon river tributaries have slowed to a trickle. Meanwhile, freshwater supplies for local communities dry up.
A severe drought in the Amazon region is disrupting grain shipments more than anticipated, according to one of Brazil’s top barge operators.
Unable to move its barges filled with products like corn and soybeans, Hidrovias do Brasil SA is forecasting lower results for this year than previously predicted, company executives said on an earnings call Tuesday.
“The situation escalated very abruptly,” Chief Executive Officer Fabio Abreu Schettino said.
The company operates along a route known as the Northern Arc, an array of ports along the Amazon and northeastern Atlantic coast that transport crops from farms in central Brazil. According to the company’s own measurements at one of the rivers in the region, water levels are about 40% lower than they were in the same period last year.
Brazil’s wildlife is suffering horribly from drought, heat, and wildfire.
Poconã, Brazil — The Pantanal wetlands in western Brazil are famed as a paradise of biodiversity, but these days they have enormous clouds of smoke billowing over them, as raging wildfires reduce vast expanses to scorched earth.
Known for its lush landscapes and vibrant wildlife, including jaguars, caimans, macaws and monkeys, the Pantanal is home to the world's biggest tropical wetlands and, in normal times, a thriving ecotourism industry.
But in recent weeks it has been ravaged by fires that are threatening its iconic wildlife, as Brazil suffers through a southern hemisphere spring of droughts and record heat.
In early October, freshwater pink dolphins suffered a mass mortality event due to exceptionally warm Amazon river water; up to ten percent of the local population in Lake Tefe died.
Monga Bay on climate change role with fires in the Pantanal.
Natural wildfires are a common natural phenomenon in the Pantanal, a biome ruled by the extremes of the annual wet and dry seasons. “The fire is part of the ecological system of the Pantanal and some species are very well adapted to it,” Tortato said. But environmentalists point to unusual weather patterns in the wetlands, sparking unprecedented and atypical fires. “The problem is that we have more and more fires every year,” Tortato said.
Experts say these irregular fires are becoming increasingly normal in the Pantanal, serving as a striking example of real-life climate change impacts. “The tendency is for it to get hotter and drier,” Figueirôa said. “The park is suffering a lot from recurring fires that occurred not long ago.”
Previously, fires would occur less frequently, giving affected areas time to recover, thanks to what Figueirôa called the Pantanal’s “window of resilience.”
“The fauna and flora are used to fires, but at a lower intensity and less frequency,” he said. “With the current frequency of fires and this increased intensity, you reduce this resilience.”
The Pantanal has been hit by a series of severe fires in recent years, with 2020 considered the worst in the wetland’s recorded history. An estimated 17 million animals were killed in the flames, although other estimates go much higher. More than 85% of Encontro das Águas State Park was burned that year, and in total, approximately a third of the Pantanal was hit by fire. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires across the world, with the Pantanal forecast to experience a 30% decrease in rainfall between 2070 and 2100. “It’s important to reinforce prevention work. We will have to adapt,” Figueirôa said.