NASA photos reveal a reduction in green spaces in the Amazon rain forest, indicating an unprecedented drought in 2010, a study published in Spanish newspaper El Pais revealed.
“The green of the vegetation, which is a measure of health, has declined in an area three times the size of the state of Texas,” said Liang Zu, who led the NASA research team.
The drought, which ended in October 2010, affected 1.5 million square kilometers of rain forest, which is four times the area affected by the drought in the region in 2005. The affected areas are in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.
NASA’s climate projection models suggest that in the future rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns may decrease humidity in the region, causing the the rain forest plant life to be replaced with flora resembling that of a woodland savanna or grasslands.
The severity of the drought was also manifested in the water level of the rivers in the Amazon river basin. These levels started to decrease in August 2010 reaching record lows in October and only began to recuperate at the beginning of the rainy season.
“Last year was the driest in the region since water level records began 109 years ago of the Rio Negro in Manaus, Brazil,” said Brazilian scientist Marco Costa.
Tuesday Colombia’s environment minister said that the Colombian Amazon rain forest is in a critical situation.