The first half of May was marked by drought in Mato Grosso do Sul

In 32 of the 46 meteorological stations in the State there was no record of rain for the period

21.05.2024 | 15:30 (UTC -3)
João Prestes
Photo: Disclosure
Photo: Disclosure

Balance released today by the Weather and Climate Monitoring Center of Mato Grosso do Sul (Cemtec/MS), the State's meteorological body linked to the Secretariat of Environment, Development, Science, Technology and Innovation (Semadesc), proves the situation of severe drought which has settled over the region since the beginning of the year. In 32 of the 46 meteorological stations spread throughout the territory of Mato Grosso do Sul, there was no record of rain in the first half of May and in the others the rate was negligible: in 8 municipalities it rained only 1% of what was expected for the period; in three, 2%. Aral Moreira had the “least worst” result: 17% of the historical average.

Another source of data reported by Cemtec/MS, the georeferenced maps of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe), Merge/Inpe, give a spatial view of the drought situation in the State. From these maps, it can be seen that the Pantaneira, North, Central, Bolsão and East regions, painted red, did not rain at all in the first fortnight of May. In the South and Southwest regions there were isolated and low-intensity rains (the satellite portrayed a maximum of 8 millimeters in the municipalities of Bonito and Nioaque, 6 millimeters in Porto Murtinho, Caracol, Mundo Novo and Anastácio, and 4 millimeters in the border strip with Paraguay and in Bodoquena).

The coordinator of Cemtec/MS, Valesca Fernandes, recalls that since October last year it has been raining below the historical average in most municipalities in the State. The last significant rainfall that hit the entire state occurred on April 16th. After that, successive dry and hot systems settled over the region, preventing the formation of rain clouds and keeping temperatures above average. In recent days the heat has subsided, however, the rain has not arrived.

Environmental emergency and fires

The drought situation has already led the Government of Mato Grosso do Sul to declare a State of Environmental Emergency on April 10, valid for 180 days, in which authorizations for burning were prohibited. However, for the first time, prescribed burning was instituted, in which the State intervenes and carries out the procedure, adopting all safety standards for fire control, in order to prevent this vegetation from being accidentally or criminally set on fire and the situation out of control, turning into large-scale fires.

The Fire Department has been working in the Pantanal region since then, in at least 140 properties identified with potential risks, in the prescribed burning operation and also in combating fires that have occurred in the region. In terms of financial resources, R$48 million were allocated and committed to immediately confront the situation, with R$23 million for Civil Defense to use in the second half of the year with the acquisition of a series of items related to combating forest fires, and other R$ $25 million to fund Fire Department operations.

The Pantanal region has already recorded 400 hot spots from January 1st to May 15th this year. 152.075 hectares were burned. This area does not include prescribed burning. The biggest fire hit the Serra do Amolar region, on the border with the State of Mato Grosso, covering an area of ​​78.825 hectares, between January and March. Another 18.225 hectares belonged to conservation units, such as the Pantanal de Rio Negro State Park and private reserves. The Fire Department responded to 1468 fire incidents this year, an increase of 119,2% compared to the same period last year. 

Water scarcity

On May 14, the National Water and Basic Sanitation Agency (ANA) declared a Critical Situation of Quantitative Scarcity of Water Resources in the Hydrographic Region of Paraguay, due to the reduction in the volume of river beds as a result of prolonged drought. The measure is valid until October 31st, when the dry period in the Paraguay basin historically ends, however, it can be extended if the water scarcity situation persists.

The water level of the Paraguay River, in April of this year, reached the worst historical level observed in some monitoring stations along its main channel. The unfavorable situation can result in impacts on water use, especially in water supply collections – especially in Cuiabá (MT) and Corumbá (MS), in addition to making navigation difficult and even unfeasible, reducing the potential for hydroelectric use by wire. 'water and compromise fishing, tourism and leisure activities.

The Aquidauana River has been below the emergency level (200 centimeters) since May 8th according to the gauge installed in the city of Aquidauana and has remained at that level since then. This Tuesday (20) there was 193 centimeters of water in that stretch. The Paraguay River, in the Ladário ruler, measured 144 centimeters of water this Tuesday morning. According to data from the Geological Survey of Brazil (SGB), at that time, on average, the water should have reached 385 centimeters at that point in the river.

Drought Monitor

The Drought Monitor also shows a very serious situation for Mato Grosso do Sul. The Drought Monitor is a process of monitoring the drought situation in regions of Brazil using data from different institutions and concentrating technical and scientific knowledge already existing in different state and federal bodies to achieve a common understanding of drought conditions, their severity, and spatial and temporal evolution. Mato Grosso do Sul has been part of the system since 2020, through Cemtec/MS, and publishes the State's drought situation bulletin monthly.

In April, according to the Drought Monitor, only parts of the South and North regions were excluded from the drought situation. Of the 46 municipalities analyzed, only 13 had rainfall above the historical average, while 33 had rainfall rates below the historical average last month. The municipality of Jardim had the worst accumulation, of just 18,6 millimeters, representing 86% less than expected for the period. The Drought Monitor report is monthly and is always released in the second fortnight of the following month, so data for May will only be available in mid-June.

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