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Huaicos and droughts: Why are climatic phenomena intensifying in Latin America?

Huaicos and droughts: Why are climatic phenomena intensifying in Latin America?

In February and March of this year, some tragic climatic events occurred in Chile and Peru. In the latter country, the huaicos -slopes of mud and rocks that due to their speed drag stones and logs- generated by intense rains caused the death of people and disappeared houses in the town of Chosica. A similar scenario was experienced in Atacama, Chile, where thousands of people were affected by the same climatic phenomenon. Despite the fact that these events are regular in both areas, climate change has caused them to intensify and develop with greater continuity.

Eduardo Durand, Director of Climate Change of the Ministry of the Environment of Peru, explains that the intensification of rains and the increase in temperature are two consequences of climate change that in turn cause phenomena such as huaicos to worsen.

"Events that were previously considered extreme and that took place in specific seasons, currently, and as a consequence of climate change, are more common," he says. COP connection.


Climate variations

In addition to the huaicos, the increase in Greenhouse Gases (GHG) brings with them waves of drought and desertification, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2014, the country hardest hit by this phenomenon was Brazil, which caused the residents to face serious difficulties due to the scarcity of water.

The changes that the region is facing are typical of global warming and disasters generated by extreme climatic events will occur with greater continuity in several countries of the region. Chilean meteorologist Jorge Carrasco explains that the atmosphere has no borders and that the flapping of a butterfly in Brazil can generate a storm on the other side of the world.

“Occasionally, the cold airs that pass through Chile can reach the southern regions of Brazil. If we think about the climatic relationship that Peru, Chile and Brazil have, we can say that in summer the monsoon circulation that takes place in Brazil and that transports humid and warm air from the northeast to the highlands, will cause summer rainfall, that is, the weather will get warmer”, Indicates the specialist.

Along the same lines, Eduardo Durand argues that Peru and Brazil share Amazon ecosystems, but that, as a result of climate change, the flooding of rivers can be altered, which in turn can generate changes in the rhythm of life of species Amazonian.

In the same way, Peru shares with Chile the Humboldt current, which gives the coasts a temperate character, but which is altered by global warming, causing the waters to heat up and generate anomalous waves.

Mitigation and adaptation actions

Given the increase in climatic variations, it is necessary for the Latin American region to create adaptation and mitigation programs to be able to face climate change. Julián Ramírez Villegas, researcher at the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), explains that Latin American countries must create programs that facilitate adaptation.

"Climate changes will occur in the short, medium and long term. For this reason it is important that governments create instruments and incentives for farmers to adapt to climatic variations ”, he stresses.

Eduardo Durand adds that research on the changes that the climate is going through should be improved, in addition to developing new technologies for the use of water, housing construction and raising animals. "When the climate changes, the flora, fauna and human life also change," he concludes.

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