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Home 24-7 Mega drought, extreme rain and deforestation have major impacts

Mega drought, extreme rain and deforestation have major impacts

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Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Most parts of Aotearoa have been belted by significant wintry conditions in the last week but Latin America and the Caribbean have been severely impacted by extreme weather and climate change impacts the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says.

The two regions are suffering mega-drought, excessive rainfall, land and marine heatwaves and glacier melt are affecting the Latin America and Caribbean regions, from the Amazon to the Andes and from the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean waters to the snowy depths of Patagonia.

In its latest report today the WMO says excessive weather has far-reaching repercussions for ecosystems, food and water security, human health and poverty.

Deforestation rates were the highest since 2009, in a blow for both the environment and climate change mitigation. Andean glaciers have lost more than 30 percent of their area in less than 50 years.

The central Chile mega drought is the longest in at least 1000 years.

“The droughts, heatwaves, cold waves, tropical cyclones and floods have led to the loss of hundreds of lives, severe damages to crop production and infrastructure and human displacement.

Increasing sea-level rise and ocean warming are expected to continue to affect coastal livelihoods, tourism, health, food, energy, and water security, particularly in small islands and Central American countries.

In South America, the continued degradation of the Amazon rain forest is still being highlighted as a major concern for the region but also for global climate, considering the role of the forest in the carbon cycle.

Worsening climate change and the compounding effects of covid have impacted the biodiversity of the region and stalled decades of progress against poverty, food insecurity and the reduction of inequality in the region.

Other WMO findings are:

•          Temperature: The warming trend continued in 2021 in Latin America and the Caribbean. The average rate temperature increase was around 0.2°C/decade between 1991 and 2021, compared to 0.1°C/decade between 1961 and 1990.

•          Glaciers in the tropical Andes have lost 30 percent and more of their area since the 1980s, with a negative mass balance trend of -0.97 m water equivalent per year during the 1990-2020 monitoring period.

•          Sea levels in the region continued to rise at a faster rate than globally, notably along the Atlantic coast of South America south of the equator. Sea level rise threatens a large proportion of the population, which is concentrated in coastal areas by contaminating freshwater aquifers, eroding shorelines, inundating low-lying areas, and increasing the risks of storm surges.

•          The central Chile mega drought is putting Chile at the forefront of the region’s water crisis.

•          The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season had the third highest number of named storms on record, 21, including seven hurricanes, and was the sixth consecutive above normal Atlantic hurricane season.

•          Extreme rainfall in 2021 led to floods and landslides. There were substantial losses, including hundreds of fatalities, tens of thousands of homes destroyed or damaged and hundreds of thousands of people displaced.

•          Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest doubled compared to the 2009 2018 average, reaching its highest level since 2009. 22 percent more forest area was lost in 2021 compared to 2020.