• Roger Akayesi

The weather in the Amazon Rainforest fire: Is it raining?”

The unfortunate scene of large infernos has become the trending image across the globe as we witness some of the most devastating wildfires to ever hit the Amazon Rainforest.

Often called the 'lungs of the Earth', the Amazon rainforest is reported to produce more than 20% of the Earth's oxygen. The rainforest has seen increasing numbers in wildfires this year. Brazil's space research centre has reported more than 75,000 fires in 2019 so far– an 85% increase from the same period last year. The wildfires have raised many concerns in the international community but with rare sight of rainfall spotted due to the peak of Brazil's dry season, is it possible for rain to quench these raging flames?

The Amazon jungle, as it is called, is the biggest rainforest in the world, covering nine countries with 5,500,000 square km of forest cover. Moreover, it is bigger than all the other rainforests combined. It is home to over thousands of species of animals, plants, and trees; making it the most bio-diverse rainforest on the planet. With such a large stretch of forest cover, the Amazon rainforest is found in nine countries of the South American continent. These include Brazil, which boasts of 60% of the rainforest, Peru with a forest cover of 13%, Colombia with 10% and the remaining 17% divided between Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

Is it raining in the Amazon rainforest?

September is the peak of the dry season in Brazil. After the dry season, the rains start moving southward from Central America, following the southward progression of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). This should provide some relief, particularly in Amazonas, where the forest acts as a source of moisture to build showers and storms.

A recent infrared satellite image over South America showing large swaths of dry weather, with very little rainfall activity. Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA

However, according to the latest seasonal outlook, conditions are expected to be drier than normal for much of Brazil over the next 3 months, particularly in the northeastern part which could extend the period of the wild fires.

A recent seasonal prediction showing the most probable rainfall anomaly for September-October-November. Brown areas indicate higher chance of drier conditions than normal for this time of year. Courtesy IRI

Given the enormity of the fires are across the Amazon, many across the globe have shared the hope that rainfall could possibly aid in the efforts to extinguish the flames and preserve the rainforest from additional damages. We keep monitoring the weather situation.

Amazon rainforest in numbers

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