In the northeastern Brazilian Amazon, the rains have been easing off after several months of regular heavy downpours, interspersed by drizzle or light rain, and an occasional dry, sunny day. Signs of flooding are everywhere. In the image above, the lake spills over a dirt road. In the water, small fish dart rapidly from one side of the flooded road to the other. The water then flows down along a normally dry, sandy track, forming a temporary stream to the left. The flow passes the village and meets another, larger dirt road and follows that along one side until it soon joins a permanent stream. Featured image above: Lago do Povo (“Lake of the People”), Bragança in June 2019.
Despite the the dirt roads, built some 35 years ago, which cross the wetlands known as Campos, or (flooded) “Fields”, water manages to reconnect again different aquatic habitats. In the past, the flooding must have been spectacular. I was told that people from the Campos used to arrive by canoe to the city. Today, people still use canoes to get around the Campos.
Rainfall in the northeastern Amazon is strongly seasonal, most of which falls between January and May, after which there is a steady decline to the driest period between September to November. However, there is also much inter-annual variation due to effects of the El Niño Southern Oscillation in the Pacific and sea surface temperature variation in the Tropical Atlantic. There are also longer term changes in rainfall due to deforestation, which has severely altered natural vegetation cover in the northeastern Amazon.
Barichivich, J et al. 2018. Recent intensification of Amazon flooding extremes driven by strengthened Walker circulation. Science Advances 4(9): eaat8785. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aat8785
Mayta, VC et al. 2019 The role of the Madden–Julian oscillation on the Amazon Basin intraseasonal rainfall variability. International Journal of Climatology 39(1): 343-360. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.5810
Zemp, DC et al. 2017. Fewer trees mean less rain for the Amazon basin. Geophysical Research Letters 44(12): 6182-6190. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017GL072955